Road Map for May: Juniors

Even under these unusual circumstances, my typical advice for juniors still holds: the most important thing right now for college is to do as well as you can in your classes.  In another year you might be taking standardized tests or visiting colleges, but none of that would be a higher priority than your academics, and the coronavirus does not change that.

Speaking of testing, good luck to those of you taking AP exams this month. So far we are hearing that colleges are sticking with their current credit policies, although that may change once colleges see what the exams and scores actually look like.  With respect to SAT and ACT exams, I still think it’s a good idea to prepare and take these, even though many more colleges are going test-optional for the Class of 2021. (Click here for the full list of test-optional schools.) Of course the testing schedule may continue to change as well; I’m skeptical that students in the DC area will be able to take the ACT in June, despite the announcement that June and July exams will be held.  If additional dates are canceled or exams are given in some areas and not others, I expect additional colleges and universities to make them optional.  One interesting development was the announcement by Claremont McKenna College that they will not consider SAT or ACT exams taken at home, and other schools may ultimately follow when the at-home options go live.

Another thing juniors might normally be doing now is college research to start their lists, with spring visits replaced this year by virtual ones. If you missed my last post on this topic, be sure to review my recommendations on demonstrated interest.  Colleges will continue to value your interest in attending, though you may be showing it in different ways. However, nothing beats an in-person visit for deciding whether a college is the right place for you, so look ahead to dates in the late summer, fall and winter when we hope those will be able to happen.

I know many students are swamped with school work but if you do have extra time you might want to get started on college applications, and perhaps essays. I’m offering a series of workshops with a webinar and a one-on-one follow up session to help you get started; click here for details and registration. (If the posted dates don’t work for you, email me to schedule your own individual or group event.)

Testing, working on your college list, and starting applications and essays can wait until summer if necessary, but there’s one thing you should do before the end of school: contact your teachers to ask them for letters of recommendation.  They will appreciate the advance notice and the opportunity to use the extra time they have in the summer to reduce their fall workload.  They also might want information from you, such as a resume or brag sheet, and starting that conversation now means you’ll be able to get them whatever they need with plenty of time to spare.