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By: Emily Brown, College Counselor

In some ways, the junior year can be the most stressful year of the college admissions process.  College applications are looming, but you aren’t quite there yet.  What should you be doing now?  Is there something that you are supposed to be doing that you are not?  Have you missed some “secret” that everyone else seems to know?

There’s no secret, and you are probably right on track.  So, as you begin your junior year, here are a few things you should be doing:

1. Start to build your college list.

Search! Use search tools like those found on Naviance, College Board’s Big Future, Cappex, Niche and many more.  These will allow you to filter your search many different ways, from location and price to student organizations and demographic information.

Visit!  Travel to schools that might be of interest to you.  Websites are great, but touring a campus gives you a much better idea if this school might be the right fit for you.  (Come by the College Counseling Office for information about excusing these absences.)

Meet!  Talk with admissions representatives from different colleges.  They can give you information that is not found on the school’s website.  They are often the first people who will be reading your application, so be sure to make a good impression.

  • College representatives visit MDS in the fall and spring.  You can find upcoming visits on Naviance as well as WMDS and the TV’s around campus.
  • UGA, Georgia Tech and Georgia State will be co-hosting an informational session for Middle Georgia students on August 22nd at 6:00 p.m. at Stratford Academy.  You can register at:
  • The PROBE Fair will be in Macon, on Tuesday, October 3rd.  For more information visit:
2.Maintain (or improve!) your GPA.

For many, the junior year grades are the last grades that will be used to determine admission.  Make sure that you are working hard and doing your best to build a strong transcript.

3. Begin testing in the spring.

Standardized testing is a much reviled but necessary part of this process.  Please see the 2017-2018 testing dates to help in your planning.

  • I would suggest taking both tests.  Students often ask which one is “easier.”  My answer is neither.  You need to determine which test is “your” test.  A good comparison of what the tests cover and assess can be found here.
  • Once you determine which test is right for you, you can spend your energy prepping for that test using online tools such as Khan Academy’s SAT prep or ACT Online Prep or test prep books and classes.
4. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Stay involved in the clubs, organizations and activities that you love.  Don’t feel the need to join every group in preparation for college applications.  Colleges prefer depth to breadth.  They want to know what you love, how you pursued it, and any impact that you made.

So that’s it?  That’s all you need to be doing?  YES.

My favorite piece of advice comes from Michael K. Mulligan the Head of The Thacher School and graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education: “Work hard, do good, and light the fires of your own genuine curiosity.”  There is more to life than the college admissions process.  Focusing on these three simple actions will not just prepare you for college applications, but for your college experience, and ultimately, your life.  In the end, you may just find that to your surprise, you’ve created a more meaningful high school experience as well!

Please know that my door is always open.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  I’d love to discuss your plans with you!