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                 By Liz Jackson

I often hear from students that junior year is the hardest. For many, it’s the first time taking AP or other advanced-level courses. Then, there’s the perception that junior year matters the most in college admissions. Certainly, this year is an opportunity to show colleges how serious you are as a student and highlight your preparation for the rigors of college coursework. So it is important to focus on your grades more than ever before.

It’s also important to look at the big picture and the road ahead. In other words, start thinking about colleges and not just what it takes to get into college. A couple of years ago, we published a blog on Demonstrated Interest, and why researching colleges thoroughly can help you find environments that will best fit you, and how it also helps improve your chances for admission!  

This fall, as colleges reopen and host tours and information sessions on their campuses for the first time in over a year, consider these ways that you can make more personal connections with the colleges that interest you.

1. Attend the college visits at your high school:  Depending on where you go to high school, there might be dozens of colleges sending admissions representatives to visit your campus–either in person or via Zoom. What is so great about these events is that they provide opportunities for you to interact with the exact people who will be reading your applications, to make a positive impression on them, and to do so without having to do any travel at all! Even if your class schedule conflicts with when a college representative is visiting, do your best to reach out to the person or even just drop in for a moment to introduce yourself. You’d be surprised how memorable you can be with a kind word and a firm handshake.

2. Think of cool questions you can ask about the colleges you are considering.  What criteria are driving your college search?  Maybe it’s a campus with lots of school spirit. Maybe it’s a top-notch neuroscience department. Whatever it is, think about how you would assess whether a college meets your criteria, and then craft questions about it that you can ask in an email to an admissions representative or in a live information session. 

3. Finally–VISIT!  Nothing quite replaces the experience of being on a college campus and the opportunity a visit provides to get a feel for the culture, location, and signature programs of a school. It is not worth breaking the bank or eschewing family vacations for a year, but do whatever is reasonable for your family’s budget and schedule to get on some campuses this year!

Need some help crafting those emails to admissions officers?  We’re happy to schedule a college counseling consultation! 

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