Your junior year of high school is an exciting time; you are over halfway finished with high school! Your third year of high school plays a pivotal part of your future with college visits, internships, standardized tests, and AP classes. Setting goals for your junior year will help you smoothly transition into your senior year for a strong finish to high school and a new beginning at your dream college or university. Here are some junior year essentials:

college roadmap

Continue with Advanced Classes

Advanced classes are a great way to challenge yourself academically and to get a head start on valuable academic content. Advanced classes often have an AP exam at the end of the academic year for students to take for college credit. We highly recommend that you sign up for the AP exams for which you qualify because if you pass them with a high score, you will gain college credits. Some high schools offer cash prize incentives for students to take AP exams. Ask your school counselor which AP exams you may take and what scores you must obtain for credit. Study for your AP exams in order to pass with a good score and you will be ahead of the average student entering colleges/universities!



Take the SAT or ACT two or three times during your junior year. If you have colleges or universities that you are interested in, find out what admission test they require for their students and be sure to take the correct test. Research what the average score is for your favorite school’s accepted students and try to reach above that score. A high score on the SAT and ACT will increase your chances of getting into your dream school and qualifying for scholarships. After you take the SAT and/or ACT, identify areas of strength and weakness to improve for future attempts. Consider pairing with one of our qualified tutors at The Brain Domain to improve your test score!



Once you have been a member of a club for at least a year, run for an officer or leadership position. Each leadership position includes a specific set of responsibilities, which will be essential in growing as a leader and building your resume for college/university applications. Leadership positions may help you grow in skills such as managing, public speaking, organizing, and networking. Seek out opportunities to be a leader at school and in the community. Become a leader in something that you are passionate about for optimal impact on yourself, others, and the club. Keep in mind that there are more ways to gain leadership experience than just leading a school club. You can also ask to lead projects at your volunteer organizations, your internship, or your job. You can lead fundraising for various walks or runs in your area. The possibilities are endless–just be sure that you get as much leadership experience as possible!


Visit Colleges and Universities of Interest

Your junior year is a great time to visit colleges and universities of interest. It is a good idea to visit a few different schools in order to narrow down what types of schools are the most appealing to you. Do you prefer large or small class sizes? Do you want to go to a public or private university? Do you plan to live at home or on campus? What majors and minors interest you? What extracurricular activities are important to you? We suggest making a checklist with some of your “must haves” in a university and visit at least one or two schools during your junior year to get a better idea of what is important to you. Visiting colleges and universities that interest you is a great way to find out whether these schools are a good match for you. Need some extra guidance? We can help!

junior year

Letters of Recommendation

Ask teachers for letters of recommendation in April or May of your junior year so that you have time to apply to colleges at the beginning of your senior year. It is important to give teachers plenty of time to complete letters of recommendation as teachers have a lot of things to juggle and will appreciate being asked in advance. Many students will wait until the last minute to request letters of recommendation from teachers, which will leave teachers cramming and frustrated. Show your teachers that you are responsible and courteous by giving them plenty of time to finish the letters of recommendation and be proactive by giving them a copy of your resume to reference. Furthermore, many teachers limit the number of recommendations they will write, so, by asking in junior  year, you are in the front of the line!


Build your Resume

Start building your high school resume at the beginning of your junior year of high school. A draft of your resume should be continually added to and refined throughout your junior year so that it is ready for submission with your college applications. Once you have a draft of your resume, add new activities and accomplishments to your resume throughout the year. An ongoing resume will allow you to easily add new entries as you complete them, rather than trying to remember a few years worth of activities to add at the last minute. You will want to submit a copy of your resume with letter of recommendation requests at the end of your junior year of high school, so be prepared to have a polished draft of your resume by April or May of your junior year.

college roadmap

Demonstrate Commitment

Commitment and responsibility are qualities that are highly valued by colleges and universities. Demonstrate commitment by being a long-term member or leader in a club, volunteering at school and in the community, and by considering an internship or job. Choose one or two things that you will invest time in for a few years during high school. An internship is a great way to find out what type of work you enjoy doing and what you enjoy learning. Internships can provide you with valuable experiences and opportunities. Use your junior year to find out more about what you enjoy doing and learning so that you can find the right college/university that suits your needs and ignites your passion.


Junior year is the most important year of high school–this is the year that colleges scrutinize the most, so be sure to keep your grades high and your priorities clear. We know this time can be overwhelming, so please drop us a line if you have any questions or concerns.