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A Quick Guide for the End of Junior into Senior Year

What Should You Be Doing As Your Junior Year Ends

Let’s face it; junior year is no cakewalk.  Maintaining good grades through rigorous courses, taking standardized tests, learning to drive, working after school, and participating in activities…junior year is a lot of pressure.  Senior year is a different pressure, mainly due to the dreaded college application.  With longer days of sunshine and summer soon approaching, many families and students are left with the anxiety and uncertainty of senior year.  Am I behind?  What should I be doing this summer?  What can I expect senior year?

Don’t worry soon to be seniors!  Check out our quick guide outlining what to focus on each month.


  • Start brainstorming college essay topics.  The college essay is one of the more challenging parts of the application, but it is also my favorite!  Sign up for a one-on-one brainstorming session to help develop and outline a topic.
  • Start writing a draft of your college essay.  Writing is a process, so the earlier you start, the more time you have to rewrite, edit, and finalize your personal statement.
  • Ask two teachers from junior year for a letter of recommendation.  Letters of recommendation are a way for the college to see what kind of student you are.  Try to choose teachers who know you and can attest to your strengths and weaknesses as a student.
  • Sign up with a college consultant.  The college application process is overwhelming, and us college consultants can help you navigate the process.  Signing up sooner rather than later will ensure you have a spot with an experienced person (most college consultants fill up fast).
  • Reexamine your college list and start visiting colleges.  Sit in on courses if you can, speak to students, research the school, check out the university’s Instagram.  Creating a college list is an art.  Be true to yourself and your wants and needs.  Think of where you would thrive as a student and individual.
  • Create a separate email for college applications.  Use an appropriate email address where you can sign up for all things college-related.  Once high school ends, many high school email addresses no longer work.  Creating an email address exclusively for college applications will ensure you don’t miss important information and help you stay organized.


  • Revise your college essay.  Once you finish your first draft, don’t look at your college essay for a week.  Take a rest.  After one week, look at your essay with a set of fresh eyes.  Sometimes it helps to place yourself in an admissions officers shoes (they read hundreds of essays, does yours stand out?).  Edit and rework until you are happy with your essay.
  • Create a resume/activities list.  List each activity you’ve participated in starting first year in reverse chronological order.  Once you’ve listed each activity, write a short (1-3 sentence) description of what you did. 
  • Continue visiting colleges, either in person or online.


  • Start the college application.    Create an account, add the colleges you want to apply to, and begin the application process.  Many colleges accept the Common App or the Coalition App.
  • Brainstorm supplemental essay topics.  Some colleges require a supplemental essay in addition to the personal statement.  These are often shorter and specific to the college. Though supplemental essays are notoriously tricky, don’t be fooled by their shorter wordcount.
  • Continue working on the personal statement.  I like to have my students finalize their personal statements by August.
  • Write thank you cards for letter of recommendation writers. 


  • Schedule college interviews (if you want).  Interviews can be a great addition to a college application because they show you are interested in the college.  They are generally conducted on campus or somewhere local by alumni.
  • Finish the college application (the Common App or Coalition App).
  • Check in with your guidance counselor.  Your guidance counselor also provides a letter of recommendation for your college application.  Meeting with them is a great way to make sure you are on track with college applications, and allows them to get to know you.
  • Edit supplemental essays.  At this point, you are sick of writing essays, but you are almost done! 


  • College is expensive.  Talk to your family to see if you should apply for financial aid. Start the FAFSA and CSS Profile. These applications require financial information from both you and your parents/legal guardian.  Many local schools and community-based organizations offer help with these applications, so be sure to attend.
  • Review the college application, college essay, and supplemental essays.  Check for content, spelling, and grammar.


  • If you are applying for Early Action or Early Decision, send in your applications and congratulations!  I generally advise students to apply Early Action if they received good grades junior year. If junior year was a struggle, applying Regular Decision will allow you to present your improved senior year first semester grades to colleges. Remember, Early Action is non-binding and Early Decision is binding (meaning if you get accepted ED, you must attend that college).


  • Check out local scholarships.  If you are in need of money for college (with an Expected Family Contribution of 0), applying to scholarships can be crucial.  Local scholarships are better than national scholarships because the application pool is smaller (you are only competing with local students). 
  • Keep your grades up!  Senioritus is a real thing. Don’t slouch now.  Colleges get your first and second semester grades.

Following this general guide can help make the overall college application process less overwhelming. If you are still overwhelmed, check out free resources online or at your school. Deep breaths, you got this!