Junior Jumpstart: 6 Things You Should Do as a Junior to Prepare for the Future

It's the fall of your junior year- apparently the most difficult year according to anyone who was junior, ever. It's not just about how hard the classes can get, but also the constant pressure of preparing for a future that, to you, may seem so far away. But what if there was a way to ease the fears and stress that come with eleventh grade? Fear not, here are several ways to prepare for your future during your junior year.


Challenge yourself 

Alright, this one may appear like it contradicts the "ease the stress" part of the junior proposal, but truly, there is an innumerable amount of benefits to challenging yourself, both inside and outside of the classroom. 
Take advanced classes, such as pre-AP, AP, or even dual credit enrollment. They prepare you for the expectations of a college course. Classes as such increase their difficulty level to increase your comprehension level. 
In more ways than not, they are vitamins for your brain. By the time you get to college, you will be familiar with the material taught during your first years. These advanced courses were designed to help you succeed, not fail, as you may have previously thought. 
If nothing else, they boost your rank up during your high school career. Rankings are especially important your junior year because the your junior year rank is what most colleges look at for admission into their campus.
While advanced courses may seem demanding and you may not quite understand why you'll ever need those long and boring formulas, remain patient and active in the classroom. They'll come in handy sooner than you expected, and you'll thank yourself later.

Begin to take the SAT and ACT 

Speaking of formulas and college admission, junior year is the perfect year to begin taking the standardized SAT and ACT tests! If you don't already know what those are, here's a brief, two word summary: IMPORTANT TESTS. These exams test your level on a range of subjects, depending on the test you choose to take- English, Reading, Math, Writing, and an additional science, if you take the ACT. 
All of the knowledge you've acquired throughout your educational career is mixed into these tests to see just how much you've learned. Remember those stinky formulas? Yeah, you'll need them. More specifically, you'll need to know how to apply them into problems to generate the correct answer. 
One of the ways colleges and universities make their admission decisions is through SAT and ACT scores, most usually having a set standard. Additionally, scholarship opportunities increase with higher scores. 
So, begin studying for these tests. There are available websites and study packets to begin to prepare. Remember to take each test at least once- Brownsboro High School pays for two exams each upperclassmen year. Talk to your counselor about additional exam waivers and if you qualify. 

Hunt for scholarships

Contrary to common belief, there are scholarships available to juniors and occasionally even younger. Even for scholarships not yet available for you, it's never too early to begin gathering your academic, financial, extracurricular, and service records.
Another tip would be to explore common topics required for scholarship essays and begin to write those essays. Once senior year rolls around and you can fully apply to more scholarships, you'll already have a basis for the essay topics you'll encounter. You could even piece together parts of multiple essays you've written to create a new one. In this manner, you are maximizing the value of your time. 
There are countless scholarships available, but it's your job to apply for them. You should not have to pay to apply for any scholarships, so disregard any scholarships you find that require payment. Below we have listed some reputable (AKA, legit) scholarship websites where you can begin your search.

Prepare for FAFSA 

Behold, the acronym you've feared if you've ever seen your older peers scrambling to get their FAFSA filled out. So what exactly is FAFSA? Fafsa is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and opens on October 1st for all seniors. Many students find FAFSA a true challenge because it requires a lot of information, such as, federal income tax records, bank statements and investments, etc. However, if you begin to round up that information into an organized folder now, you will save yourself a lot of time and stress later when your time to apply for FAFSA rolls around. 

Begin exploring career paths that coincide with your interests

The pressure is on to start choosing what you want to do out of high school. Commonly, juniors tend to overwhelm themselves when it comes to thinking of areas of study because they think that once they choose, they are confined to that decision and it's what they'll do for the rest of their life. But, really, it isn't that way at all. You are able change what you choose to do at any point (for the most part). But, it can begin to cost you time and money if you constantly change major in college. 
Instead, list out all your interests and strengths and think seriously about what it is you are passionate about. The work force is broad, and there is always something for you. Your job is to find it. Take career quizzes to see what options are available for your interests. 
Once you have a general idea of what you'd like to do, you can begin to look at what you need to do to fill this occupation. 


Start to look at post-secondary institutions best suited for you

At this point, it would be a good idea to start looking at where you should head after high school. For some, that is college. For others, that is trade school or the work force. Look for colleges and universities that offer the programs you are looking to pursue. More than that, search for schools that excel in those areas of study at the best price so that you can achieve the highest quality of education. 
Begin touring different institutions. Our high school gives upperclassmen two days each year for college days. These days are specifically given so that students can have time to explore campus life and talk to the advisors about the opportunities offered. 
When you have a rough idea of where you'd like to go, it's easier to choose what schools to apply to when application season arrives. This will be a relief because application fees can begin to add up quickly. 
So, there it is. Once you take the initiative to begin doing these things your junior year, you'll find that your senior year won't be as demanding and rigorous. 
Hang on tight, it's going to be a good one!
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