Junior Year of High School College Checklist: Month to Month

If you want to go to a top tiered school, junior year is the time to get serious. There’s a list of concrete things you absolutely must do (no matter where you want to go), but we understand how stressful it can be when you aren’t sure when to do what. We thought it would be helpful to give you a month to month checklist, similar to the schedule we provide for TKG students.  

Before we begin, the last action item of every month will be to increase and expand your extracurricular activities. This is the MAIN thing that students should be doing throughout junior year. Find a passion (or two, or four) and join groups that suit those interests. Look for online classes and any other opportunities you can find as you continue to delve deeper every single month: the students that demonstrate a continued interest in a specific field are the students that get internships, work studies, and jobs.

Here’s our month to month to-do list:


  • Start studying and tutoring for the SAT/ACT.  It would be better to start studying in July/August in order to take tests in September/October, but taking the test in December is a must.

  • Register for the December ACT and/or SAT.

  • Tour first college. The first college you tour is a lot like the first house you see on your quest to home ownership. You don’t go into it assuming you’ll find the perfect fit: you’re deciding whether or not you like the size, location, and overall feeling. It’s a way to start a basis for comparison for a long list of factors that will eventually help you make a decision.

  • Expand extracurriculars.   


  • Continue touring colleges. TKG students plan their college visits geographically and see 2-4 schools per trip. Make it a goal to see at least one college a month and try to see multiple colleges per location.

  • Keep studying for tests.

  • Expand extracurriculars. 


  • Take practice tests every weekend. You’ll likely take the test twice, but prepare as much as possible before the first.

  • Expand extracurriculars  



  • Get test scores back. Review your scores and start making a more realistic list of schools to tour and apply to. Do research and organize your notes in a working google doc.

  • Unless you get a perfect score, register to take the tests again.

  • You should know which teachers you plan to ask for recommendation letters by now. Start mentioning it to them and if possible, take on extra responsibilities. Teachers will be swarmed with students asking for letters by April, so make sure to beat the crowd.

  • Expand extracurriculars.   


  • Slim down your college list. This includes more than just looking at your test scores and seeing where you can realistically be admitted. Ask yourself: big or small? Close to home or far away? Greek life or no Greek life? Start looking at these kinds of parameters and narrow down to what’s important.

  • Expand extracurriculars


  • Retake SAT and/or ACT. An important note on taking tests for the third time: We highly suggest you think about whether or not taking the SAT/ACT for a third time is the most effective use of your time and energy. Not everyone’s score goes up a third time, so be realistic with yourself. Don’t neglect your grades and extracurriculars to bump your score by 30 points (SAT) or 1 point (ACT). In order to get into an Ivy (or a school that’s out of reach) you need to have the test scores AND the grades AND the extracurriculars, so keep that balance in mind when it comes to registering again.

  • Ask for recommendation letters.

  • Expand extracurriculars.   


  • Get test scores back. At this point you should compile a realistic list. TKG students start with 3 reach schools, 4 targets, and 3 safety schools.

  • Register for two SAT2’S in June. A lot of colleges no longer require SAT2’s but it’s better to have the scores and not use them than need them and not have them. Save yourself a potentially stressful situation and take two.

  • Expand extracurriculars  


  • Take AP tests

  • Expand extracurriculars. 


  • Take SAT2’s

  • Create a common app account. It’s a misconception that the common app comes out in August. This year, it came out in the first week of April. Fill out the first four sections of the common app (logistics) once you’ve created your account.

  • Expand extracurriculars.   


  • Start writing common app essay.

  • Schools are ~technically supposed~ to have their writing supplements posted by August 1st, so don’t start writing supplements until then because schools are allowed to change them up until this date. But some of them don’t even come out until after August 1st. Shout out to Princeton and Yale for being two weeks late to the game this year!!



We know this is a lot, but we’re great at getting students on track. Reach out if you want some help.