How to Prep for College: Junior Edition

For seniors, college applications are in the past, though for many, the outcomes are unclear. For juniors, however, college stress has just begun. 

College planning during senior year. Photo from Cady Russell.

On January 9, juniors found themselves subject to Rising Senior Night, or a kickstarter for counselors to explain the logistics of college applications and admissions for juniors. If you were unable to attend, do not fear – all of the information can be found here. But how should you organize your junior year to prepare for senior year?

From April to June of junior year, college visits, taking the ACT and SAT, asking for recommendation letters, making a list of potential colleges, and starting on your resume are key elements to staying ahead. In July, the counseling center recommends that work begins on college essays, and in August, registration for standardized tests is still readily available. if When September rolls around, gathering recommendation letters and having essays corrected and critiqued are crucial elements to staying on track. In October, the financial aid application (FAFSA) opens, which is a crucial element in ensuring that you and your family can afford to send you to school. Finally, in November, submit applications, request transcripts from counseling center, and send official test scores to colleges. The senior year plan is pictured above.

DSHS administration highly recommends that students take the ACT and/or SAT at least twice before junior year is over. The school administers many practice tests and even offers a few free testing opportunities during schooling hours, so watch your email for those opportunities and dates. These can also be found at my.dshs.com.

A junior writes down information at the UT booth during Rising Senior Night. Photo by Enrique Bermudez.

If you plan to apply specifically to schools in Texas, ApplyTexas.org is the website for you. This site can be used for any 2-4 year public school applications in Texas, and opens on July 1. If you plan to apply to out-of-state schools and Texas private schools Common App is most likely the more efficient site to use. Common App hosts over 830 schools, and it opens on August 1. Though these sites don’t go live until summer, essay prompts on each site remain relatively consistent throughout the years, which means that getting a head-start on writing is readily available. Alongside this, Common App also allows its users to input general information concerning their general personal information ahead of the August 1 date,  which gives students ample time to set up their account. Certain schools on both Common App and Apply.Texas.org may ask for supplemental information like letters of recommendation, test scores, and shot records. Only ask for letters of recommendation if your application calls for it, and get them in early, as they are mailed in. SAT and ACT scores must be ordered from their respective websites, and letters of recommendation must be requested from the counseling office unless the student is using Common App, as the site automatically sends them to your schools. Other items must be asked for in advance from the Libby Weaver, the DSHS registrar (libby.weaver@dsisdtx.us). 

A student listens to the Centenary booth. Photo by Enrique Bermudez.

Finally, how do you stay organized with all this mess? The easiest answer is to create an organizational system. For example, make a list for each college you plan to apply to, filled out with application deadlines, test score and recommendation letter requirements, scholarship opportunities, and tuition rates. The counseling center prefers spreadsheets that you can update, but it’s up to the individual person to decide the level of organization that they want to achieve. 

In the end it is important to remember that while this is a stressful time, students before you have completed the application process time and again. If you find yourself seeking help, ask your current senior friends what their tips and tricks were to filling out the applications or ask your counselors for help. You got this.

Websites for Use:

Career & College Search Tools:


College Applications:

College Athlete Eligibility:

Scholarship Resource:

Financial Aid:

By Cady Russell, Online and Social Media Editor

Featured photo by Enrique Bermudez

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