As the 2017-18 school year winds down, current juniors will be encouraged to prepare for the future. Senior year and college applications are approaching, and advice is needed for the next steps.

“The most important thing right now for juniors is to be sure that they have taken the SAT or ACT test,” explained counselor Jackie Swinney. “This will allow them some time to retake one or both if needed. Be sure that you know the acceptance score for the colleges that you are applying to.”

The SAT is being offered on May 5 at Keller High School and June 2 at Fossil Ridge High School. Registration is still open for both although there is a late registration fee of $29 for the May test. The ACT will be given at Keller High School on June 9, and registration will close on May 4. For more information about the SAT, click here, and click here for more details about the ACT.

While standardized tests are necessary, another important thing for juniors to consider is college visits. Each campus has a unique environment to be examined as well as differences in class size, professor availability, extracurricular activities, and location.

“I strongly recommend visiting colleges in person, as much as possible, and it’s important to identify which type of campus fits you best,” said Cherie Gopffarth, counselor for last names Je-Mec. “This will be your ‘home away from home’ for four years, so it’s important to find a place where you can be involved and feel comfortable.”

However, if physical college visits are not an option, there is a virtual alternative.

“I would start  looking at college websites that are interesting to you, looking at requirements for admissions, tuition, [and] possible scholarships since most of the large scholarships come from the university itself,” advised lead counselor Dana Bert. “Then, I would start a comparison file, or however you might want to organize, to help prioritize when you are making decisions.”

As students begin the college search, application requirements are crucial to assess. Some colleges need recommendation letters from teachers, and it is paramount to give teachers enough time to write a good letter.

“If you are wanting a recommendation from a teacher you have this year, ask them now before the end of the year. Just tell them that you are collecting teacher recommendations for college and that you are starting a file. By asking now, the teacher won’t be rushed and will do a better job,” noted Swinney. “They can email [it] to you so that it can be uploaded to the school that needs it.”

If a student wants a recommendation from a counselor, they need to fill out a recommendation packet. These can be picked up from Dena Blackwell in the counseling office.

“Ask [the teacher] what information they prefer,” elaborated counselor Marissa Diaz. “Also, giving clear details regarding where the recommendation should be sent and the deadline is essential.”

While letters of recommendation are essential, there are ways to boost a college application that students can do on their own time. Volunteer work and shadowing a professional are fitting activities to participate in over the summer. Finally, seat time and grades must be taken care of in order to end this school year on a positive note, but with credit gained in all courses, a bright senior year lies ahead.