College Prep Resolutions for High School Juniors

With 2021 officially behind, the current class of high school juniors — the graduating class of 2023 — will be the next cohort to apply to college. While juniors may feel that they still have plenty of time to begin with their college hunting and college applications, it would be a serious mistake to let the approaching months go to waste.

Below are some actionable New Year’s resolutions that can orient high school juniors as they approach college prep in coming months.

Spring Term of Junior Year

I will earn my highest possible score on the ACT or SAT. While there will still be time to retake the ACT or SAT over the summer or in the fall, do your best to check this item off your to-do list now. That way, you can enjoy your summer more, make time for visiting potentially far-away colleges and have one less commitment on your mind during the infamously busy start of senior year.

[Read: When to Apply to College.]

I will visit at least half of my prospective colleges. Given that many students to apply to more than 10 colleges, campus visits should start as early as possible to allow yourself time to see each one. If you have a heavy course schedule, you can take advantage of the rest of winter break and spring break to tour colleges, ideally visiting more than one school on each trip.

I will arrange a work or internship opportunity that aligns with my goals. Because competition for summer jobs and internships can be stiff, you should start seeking out such opportunities months in advance. If you are not sure how to go about the process, talk to your school counselor or perform a search, for example on

Summer Term After Junior Year

I will finish touring my prospective colleges. Summer, which involves little to no schoolwork and consistently pleasant weather, is the perfect time to finish visiting colleges. You can make college visits especially memorable by going with classmates or friends who are interested in the same schools as you.

[Read: Create a To-Do List for Your College Search.]

I will write several college essays: Summer is also the ideal season for completing creative tasks, since sunshine and social gatherings can lead to a good mood. Start writing a few college essays, even if they are unpolished or awkward.

At first, aim to craft more generic essays, ones that can apply or be adapted to different prompts. If you’re unsure what that means, look at the Common App essay prompts for 2022 and supplemental prompts for your top-pick schools. You should notice similarities among the questions.

Finally, space out your writing sessions so that you can revisit your work with fresh eyes and have others contribute ideas, too.

Looking Ahead: Fall Term of Senior Year

I will remain as committed to my schoolwork as always. Not taking school seriously enough during senior year can result in disaster, as a significant decline in GPA can be a reason for colleges to revoke admissions acceptance. Avoid overconfidence and be consistent with your studies until the end.

[READ: End-of-Year Mistakes to Avoid for High School Juniors, Seniors]

If you are burned out from junior year and want to have a relatively lighter senior year, do not take on more responsibility than you are willing to commit to. Instead, slightly reduce the number of advanced classes you take or find a space in your schedule for a study hall. Remain studious and keep your college applications competitive through coursework and extracurricular activities.

I will tie up college application loose ends ASAP. The start of senior year is the season for completing unfinished business, which could mean giving the ACT or SAT one last try, finalizing your college essays or selecting those who will write your letters of recommendation.

Most college application deadlines loom around late fall and early winter, dates that tend to coincide with final exams and the holidays, so it would behoove you to tie up those loose ends sooner rather than later. Otherwise, what is usually the jolliest time of year could quickly become very stressful.

It’s never too soon to start planning for your future. Act now as a junior to ensure a smooth college application process. Making these resolutions is the perfect way to do that.

More from U.S. News

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College Students Share Must-Do Tasks for High School Juniors

Use All 4 Years of High School to Prep for College

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