What should a high school junior do to prepare for college?


There are many different answers to this question, depending on who you ask and what school you want to go to. Ultimately, to answer this question is that it depends on your specific situation. In this post, we will cover what you can do in your junior year of high school to get prepared for higher education.

College Placement Exams are Coming

Typically, you will begin studying for and taking standardized tests your junior year of high school. While Portland State University no longer requires these tests to be submitted for admission, other schools you are applying for may require it. Also, it is important to remember that a high SAT or ACT score will only help your application. 

Decide which classes you will take in your junior year

Consider the classes you are signing up for. More challenging courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate show colleges that you are up for a challenge. Also, many colleges can accept these courses as college credits, which will save you money in the long run. Dual enrollment courses are a great option to save money if your high school offers this. PSU accepts many different alternative college credits.

Not only will these rigorous courses prepare you for the type of work you will be doing in college, but it will also give you an opportunity to save money and time.

Envision your ideal college experience

Start thinking about what goals you have for your time in college. Maybe you want to study abroad, join Greek Life, be in the marching band or study in a famous research laboratory. This will help you narrow down which schools you want to go to.

Visit college campuses and get excited!

Your junior year is a great time to explore college campuses and get an idea of what college life looks like. Safely explore both large and small college campuses to get a feel for the difference. Talk to people you run into during your tour and see what they like about their school. 

Can’t make it to a school you want to visit? Many universities have options for virtual tours (ours does!) so you can get a view of the campus from your sofa at home.

Add extracurriculars to your academic resume

Colleges want to see who you are as a person in addition to your grades. Take time to volunteer or join a club. Pick something you are genuinely passionate about and maybe even work up to a leadership position. Leadership roles stand out to colleges and having interests outside of school can help you find friends and community once you get to college, not to mention becoming a strong candidate for scholarships and grants.


Think about what you may want to major in 

You can change your major while you’re in college, but it’s good to know what subjects stand out to you in high school. That way, when you are exploring universities, you can make sure they have the program you are interested in studying.

Consider how you will pay for college 

Do you plan on applying for scholarships? Taking out student loans? Are you familiar with the FAFSA and know how and when to apply? How much does college cost anyway? These are all things you should begin to learn about as you approach the end of your time in high school. Securing your finances is one of the scariest and most complicated parts of getting to college, but luckily there are tons of resources out there that can break it down for you. 

We have a blog post dedicated to understanding financial aid that explains this subject in a little more detail.

You can do it!

Don’t worry about it too much. It can seem overwhelming but you will have our support as you go through the process. There are plenty of resources out there if you have questions or just want to hear about others’ experiences in college. Schedule a tour or talk to our admissions office today.