Junior Jumpstart: Getting Ready for College

You might think college prep is only for seniors. But junior year is a crucial time for choosing a college, filling out financial aid paperwork, building a great application and much more. That’s why we have a whole day dedicated just to juniors. Bear Necessities Day is designed to help prepare juniors for college applications and decisions. Registration opens February 1!

Read on for a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.

  • Research careers. We’re not talking about mapping out your entire future. But it’s a good idea to really learn about the careers you’re interested in. Get online and research job availability, potential salaries and requirements. Meet professionals in those fields and gain some insight. Job shadow. Ask about possible internships. Equip yourself to make an informed decision about your future.
  • Remember your passions. While you’re researching careers, don’t lose sight of what you love to do! A great career combines your natural gifts and talents with opportunities for growth and earnings.
  • Study. Seriously. You need to make good grades to make it happen. AP classes can be a great help, too. Learning good study habits now will prep you for those mid-terms and finals once you get to college.
  • Take the ACT. In fact, take the ACT as often as you can. Gaining just one or two points can make a big difference in scholarship availability and overall competitiveness.
  • Get busy on scholarships. Many have a December closing date during junior year, so start searching and applying for scholarships now.
  • Meet with your school counselor. Start discussing college and making plans. Be sure to take the right classes to reach your goals for graduation and starting college.
  • Fill out the FAFSA. Your parent or guardian can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid starting in October. Visit fafsa.gov to learn more and check deadlines.
  • Earn money. Okay, you don’t want work to interfere with those good grades. But making money now can make a big difference! Try to set aside at least 25% of what you earn each pay period for college expenses. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Learn to budget. Yes, this actually matters. You need experience handling money and using it wisely. Take a finance class. Be in charge of groceries for a week. Work out a personal budget with Monopoly money. Ask a parent or guardian for help learning the ropes (they’ll be impressed, trust us).
  • Serve. Volunteer hours are a great addition to scholarship and college applications (and to life in general). Bonus points if the work is related to your field of study.
  • Research colleges and universities. It’s time to start gathering information on potential schools. Check out degree programs, housing, facilities, tuition and other costs, amenities – everything! Plan visits, (with a parent or guardian), to your top choices. We can’t wait to welcome you to UCA!
Eric Rob Isaac