Junior Year of High School: College Prep

When you hear the words “junior year” what do you think of? SATs? College tours? Applications? AP exams? 11th grade is often billed as THE “college year,” but any 9th or 10th grader knows that it’s not like students spend the other years twiddling their thumbs. This is a misconception. Consider that every year of high school is a “college year.” In this post, we talk about what you need to be focused on your junior year. Spoiler alert: it is extracurriculars.

The Basics  

Let’s get a few, simple line items out of the way:

1.     Complete standardized tests

2.     Complete 10 school tours

3.     Ask for teacher recommendation letters

4.     Create Common Application account  

These actions are extremely important, but we’ve blogged a lot about them already, so we’re going to use the rest of this post to talk about something else.

The Not-So Basics 

Junior year is also a leadership year. Developing a track record of accomplishments in a few specific, relevant extra-curriculars is very important. This part isn’t as straightforward as standardized tests. We build out a suite of impressive extra-curricular activities with each client. In essence, we help them develop a brand. They have 2-4 areas of interest, broadly defined, that are interesting and intriguing to them. These activities should say something about who the student is. Kids should work hard and actually spend time doing something focused instead of adding random things to their resume. Volunteering at a Hebrew School once a week and teaching Sunday School for an hour is not what we’re talking about.

We hate to break it to you, but the old guard of once-impressive activities isn’t cutting it anymore, either. Captain of the basketball team and secretary of the student government may not hack it, but becoming a leader in three activities that show the admissions committee that you are super passionate about molecular biology will. Getting into college is competitive and it’s only getting worse. They aren’t looking for well rounded students anymore—they’re looking for extremes.

We help our students avoid the usual clichés of high school participation and carve out a path that is both unique and impressive. Our students are doing research with professors at Yale because in this day and age, that’s what it takes. The activities we tend to advise our students to pursue are extremely hard to get. It takes tenacity to do research with professors.

If you are reading this and you think your kid is doing enough, we’re not here to tell you otherwise. However, we have yet to meet a student who we believe is doing enough to meet the demands of a wildly competitive college.  


Need help building an impressive portfolio of extra-curriculars? Reach out to us here. We’re experts at helping students develop competitive resumes.