It’ll Be Here Sooner Than You Think (gulp): Preparing This Summer for Your College Admissions Journey (Rising Junior Version)

It’ll Be Here Sooner Than You Think (gulp): Preparing This Summer for Your College Admissions Journey (Rising Junior Version)

You have made it to the halfway checkpoint of your high school career! Officially you can answer to the call of “upperclassman.” Congratulations. 

Junior year is such an important and exciting milestone year. It is the time when you start spending more energy looking at the road ahead than in your rearview mirror. Everything feels (and is) heightened in the year ahead – your course selections, your grades, your leadership in activities, and your relationships. For many of you, these decisions will start to matter more and more as you begin to think about life after high school, specifically the college admissions process. As a father of a rising junior, and an independent educational consultant, I wanted to offer three things that rising juniors can prioritize this summer to help you get ahead of the college admission journey and (hopefully) have a bit of fun and self-discovery along the way.

Juniors, this summer is your chance to heighten your curiosity, deepen your talents, and elevate your intuition on college options. Consider these three milestones for your summer:

  1. Visit a (any!) college campus. This is a low pressure summer to start to familiarize yourself with the ethos of a college campus. You are not trying to interview for a seat in the class of 2026 (yet), so use this summer to get a feel for college campuses. If you can, visit a large school, mid-size school and a smaller school. Locally, you can accomplish this with tours of CU-Boulder, DU, and Colorado College, as examples. If you have a busy travel summer, try and carve out 2 hours during a vacation to see a campus in the vicinity of your vacation. Take notes on your experience on things that appeal and don’t appeal to you while you breathe in the campus vibe! (You’ll want these notes later in your junior year!)
  2. Go one level deeper on one of your talents or interests. Colleges are looking for students who go beyond “involvement” and have examples of “commitment” in their credentials. Your Junior summer is the IDEAL time to make those energy investments. This can be through a job, through independent research, through volunteer time or simply in reading a couple of books or listening to podcasts on a subject where you have an interest. Don’t put the pressure on yourself to make this larger than life (or the need to spend money for one of these experiences). Simply spend time reflecting on your talents, interests and curiosities and find an outlet to get a little sharper or more informed in that subject. 
  3. Initiate a family discussion about college perceptions and expectations. Before things get too serious on college choices and applications, use this summer for your family to get on the same page on the college journey ahead. Make this light, fun, and productive. Some starter questions for the conversation could be:
    1. Why college? How does a college experience fit into your future ambitions/dreams?
    2. What is your perception of college? What about your parent(s) perception and experience with college? (Here is the place for the parent’s to finally get to tell those “In my day…” stories!)
    3. What are some initial reactions to dimensions such as: location, campus size, academic program availability, campus culture? Important: recognize that these will change between now and senior year, but now is a good chance to get the conversation started. 
    4. What, if any, is the financial budget for college? What expectations are there for funding (parent, student, others)?
    5. What are some of the talents, strengths, interests that you and your parent(s) expect to carry on in college?This could be a good time to start voicing ideas for majors/academic areas of study to keep in the consideration set. 

So, soak in your summer, start these conversations and take these first steps on this exciting (and accelerating) journey ahead!

If you are interested in more personalized guidance and support throughout your college admissions journey, I would love to help. I am a former admission officer (Emory University) and have an MBA from the University of Texas. My advising practice is individualized for students based on their interests and talents. You can find more information about my practice, credentials and philosophy at maxcollegeadvising.com or email me directly at adam@maxcollegeadvising.com.

About Adam Max

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