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A College Checklist for High School Juniors

Your junior year in high school is a great time to start thinking about college. Use this college checklist for high school juniors to help you get started so you can be a step ahead when you get to your senior year.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to have all the answers right now.

The college search process is just that – a process. This checklist is a tool that can help you on your journey to find the right college for you.


✓ Set up a meeting with your high school counselor to talk about what you need to do to make sure you are on track for both graduation and college admission requirements.

✓ Create a list of all the things you would like a college to offer. This can include:

○ Academic programs or areas you are interested in
○ Competitive athletics or intramural sports
○ Greek life and other extracurriculars
○ Campus size
○ Location and proximity to home

✓ Decide if you want to take the PreACT or the PSAT to prepare you for the ACT or SAT; not all colleges require you to take these tests, but by taking the PSAT, you can qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Check out a list of “test optional” schools at FairTest.

✓ Start researching colleges and universities that align with your list by searching online, through social media, or even downloading apps like Niche or Princeton Review.


✓ Make a list of the top colleges you would like to attend based on your research and schedule your college campus visits for the Spring and Summer.

Campus visits are the best way to figure out what you really want in a college. I love it when students go someplace big and then someplace small to try both out. I always tell them it’s like clothes. It can look so good online and then you get it and it’s not the right fit.

Edie Thibodaux, UHSP Admissions Representative


✓ Start visiting campuses. Spring break can be a great time to do this. And beyond individual tours, many colleges host special events in the spring and fall to give you a deeper experience of their campus.

✓ Build your senior schedule to stay on track for college entry by working closely with your guidance counselor.

✓ Create a list of individuals who can write recommendation letters on your behalf, if needed. 

✓ Begin building your college resume by making a list of your activities or extracurriculars.


✓ Go on more campus visits! Experiencing a campus in person will give you a true feel for whether it is the right fit for you.

✓ Attend an event or two at your top colleges like preview days, sporting events or overnight immersion programs that can give you a special glimpse of what campus life and classes are like. 

✓ Narrow down your top list of colleges to two to three with a couple of backups. 

✓ Create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) to prepare for completing the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) in the Fall; both you and a guardian must have one. This can take a few days to process, so having it ready before the FAFSA opens will allow you to keep the process moving when the time comes.

There you have it! This college checklist for high school juniors will help you to stay focused and on track for college. Remember, it’s okay to not know what you want yet. Take this time to figure out your strengths and interests and know it’s okay to change your mind as you explore.

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