Detailed Junior College Planning Timeline

An opening in the flowers shows the exterior of the Highlands Latin School Building

Junior Year

  • CHECK OUT the resources HERE to help you build you college list.
  • BEGIN / CONTINUE YOUR SEARCH for “College Fits” by answering the questions on this page.
    • If juniors feel they have done exceptionally well on the PSAT they may choose to continue to test with the SAT starting in December.
    • Juniors are typically encouraged to try their first ACT usually in early December after the PSAT (the PSAT is taken mid-late October). After you take your first ACT compare your results and test-taking experience to the PSAT (taken in mid-late Oct.). Determine which test (the ACT or SAT) is your “best-test” from your Preliminary SAT vs ACT experience.
    • Here are some helpful tools for distinguishing which test is your “best test”:
    • Proceed to create a study plan and a “retake-test-schedule” for your determined best test.
    • Test at least twice more from your initial test to improve your score.
    • You will send your best standardized test score to colleges in the fall of your 12th grade year. A strong score gives you a competitive edge for admissions and scholarships to colleges.
    • Visit the SAT & ACT Guide on our website for detailed guidance on this.
  • CONTINUE RESEARCHING COLLEGES & BEGIN LISTING QUESTIONS. Request information by submitting your email or mailing address through the admissions webpage of any college of serious interest.
    • File college mail and emails that will be helpful for future reference.
    • Investigate specific schools and school-types and their middle 50% . The middle 50% reflects whether this school may be a good match academically for you; including your admission likelihood and how you will fit into the student body. Students that match to a school at their academic level are statistically seen to graduate from that institution at higher rates.


    • Junior year is notorious for being the most challenging year of a student’s “high school career” (and colleges know it!).
    • The rigor of your classes and your success through this year speak volumes to colleges evaluating your transcript.
    • Reach out for help as needed, take advantage of tutoring, and continue to build your relationship with your teachers. You will soon be asking these teacher for a letter of recommendation for your college applications.
  • STAY COMMITTED TO YOUR EXTRACURRICULARS & TRY NEW THINGS. Remain faithful to and continue to grow in your extracurriculars. Colleges want to see you can commit to and balance school and other responsibilities. It is also never too late to try something new!
  • CONTINUE UPDATING YOUR JOURNAL (CHRONICLING 9TH-12TH GRADES). Continue listing all extra-curricular activities, awards, and honors each year including summers. Be specific about the details of each. Record your time commitment, list your responsibilities with active verbs, and give a reflection about what you learned. This will help with future applications!

Fall / Winter:

  • TAKE THE PSAT/NMSQT IN OCTOBER. Take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifier Test in October to potentially qualify as a National Merit Semi-Finalist. National Merit Semi-Finalists and commended are notified in September of their senior year. Semi-Finalists go through an application process after September to compete for Finalist status which often results in generous scholarship offers from public and sometimes private colleges and universities.
  • MEET WITH COLLEGE REPS. Plan for your opportunity to engage with Admissions Counselors representing your colleges of interest. You may do so during A.C. visits to HLS, College Fairs, or campus tours on the college/university of interest. Admission Counselors may track your engagement as demonstrated interest. Ask thoughtful and genuine questions, but be sure to check the school’s website FIRST for answers!
  • IN NOV. REGISTER FOR & TAKE THE ACT IN EARLY DEC. Highlands does host the ACT for our students. (If you feel you did exceptionally well on the PSAT you may elect to register in early Nov. to take the early December SAT.)
  • DETERMINE BEST TEST & MAKE A STUDY PLAN & TEST TAKING SCHEDULE: Evaluate your experience and scores of the PSAT vs. ACT. Determine whether your “best test” is the ACT or SAT. Utilizing this tool may help: Using PSAT to compare SAT and ACT. Make a testing plan to study for and continue to test with your determined “best test”.
  • PLAN TO VISIT SCHOOLS. Make a specific plan to visit schools of interest in the spring or summer of your junior year. Visiting will help you decide where you want to apply. It may be most helpful to visit when the school is in session. This will help you to gain a better perspective of the student life, faculty, and staff. You may even have the opportunity to observe classes. Check the school’s website for “Junior Days” or campus visit information. Schedule an official tour and take specific notes on each visit (file in your College File).
  • CONSIDER SUMMER PLANS & APPLY IF NECESSARY! Consider applying for camps, summer programs (pre-college/internships etc.), work opportunities, or volunteer services that require applications. Some of these kinds of applications are due as early as the winter and spring months.
  • SCHEDULE YOUR RISING SENIOR MEETING. Watch for announcements regarding rising senior meeting with your College Counselor and sign up. Plan to meet at school on your designated date. We will discuss your working college list and application requirements and next steps.

Spring / Summer:

  • CONTINUE TO TAKE STANDARDIZED TEST(S): Register for spring and again for summer tests respectively.
  • CONTINUE RESEARCH. Use online resources to learn more about colleges of interest. Visit any schools (or even school types) to which you may apply. Visit colleges when in session to help you better decide if the school or school type is a good fit. Summer can be a great time for Admissions Counselors to meet with you and your parents.
  • REQUEST RECOMMENDATIONS IN MAY! You will likely need at least one teacher recommendation for each application. Sometimes you may need two or more. Politely ask the teacher(s) who know(s) you best if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. This will give your teacher(s) plenty of time to complete it. Then they will have it done and be ready when it comes time to submit your applications!
  • ATTEND COLLEGE PLANNING CLASS & WORKSHOPS. Attend our College Planning Class & Workshops in the late spring and through the summer to get a head start on your application material. Applications often open August 1st and the College Admissions Process is nonstop from there!

Before your Senior Year:

  • DISCUSS MONEY MATTERS. Discuss the financial cost of college with your parents. Review the tuition, room & board, and other fees of schools you are considering. Look to see what scholarships are offered. Discuss the feasibility of colleges net price (the price after financial aid and scholarships-look for a net price calculator on your university or college of interest’s website). If the cost is beyond your budget prepare specific questions for an Admissions Counselor / Financial Aid Officer from the University / College. Inquire about merit and/or need-based aid and work study opportunities.
    • Check out these helpful articles on paying for college from here.
  • FINALIZE YOUR COLLEGE LIST. Decide which schools you plan to apply and review application requirements and scholarship opportunities.