HS Rising Junior Summer Plans

Rising Junior Summer: Your College Admissions Launchpad

June 25, 20247 min read

"The future belongs to those who prepare for it today." - Malcolm X

Rising Junior Summer: Your College Admissions Launchpad

The summer before junior year is a critical period in a student's college preparation. It's a time for them to strengthen their academic profile, explore their interests further, and get a head start on the application process. Here are 6 simple ways they can make the most of this valuable time:

HS Junior Summer Launchpad

1. Academic Enrichment: Elevate Your Transcript and Showcase Your Passion

Challenge Yourself with Rigorous Coursework:

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: Consider taking an AP course online or at a local college if your school doesn't offer the subjects you're interested in. AP courses demonstrate your willingness to challenge yourself and can earn you college credit. In some instances, they can also be submitted instead of SAT or ACT scores. 

Dual Enrollment: Enroll in college courses at a local community college or university. This not only gives you a taste of college-level work but can also help you fulfill general education requirements later on. It is also a better way to earn college credit if you don’t want to rely on a one-time AP Test to help you secure that credit.

Summer Programs: Explore summer programs offered by universities or specialized institutions. These can range from intensive academic programs to research opportunities, providing you with unique experiences and exposure to different fields.

Independent Study: If you have a specific academic passion, consider pursuing an independent study project under the guidance of a teacher or mentor. This demonstrates initiative and a deep interest in your chosen subject.


Here are some examples for various academic interests:

  • STEM: Take a summer coding boot camp, participate in a robotics competition, or conduct a research project on a scientific topic of your choice.

  • Humanities: Enroll in a creative writing workshop, start a literary analysis blog, or volunteer at a historical society to delve into historical research.

  • Social Sciences: Intern at a non-profit organization, attend a leadership conference, or study a foreign language to gain a global perspective.

2. Extracurricular Engagement: Demonstrate Passion and Leadership

Deepen Your Involvement: Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on a few activities that truly resonate with you. Colleges are more interested in seeing genuine passion and commitment than a long list of superficial activities.

Seek Leadership Roles: Take initiative in your extracurriculars by assuming leadership positions. Remember, leadership roles are NOT just the ones with titles. Find a way to carve out a role where you are leading an initiative that matters to you and achieve knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark results! This demonstrates your ability to organize, motivate, and make a difference.

Start Your Own Project: If you don't find an existing activity that aligns with your interests, create your own! Launch a club, start a podcast, organize a community event, or pursue a personal project that showcases your initiative and creativity.

Volunteer Meaningfully: Find a cause you care about and volunteer your time. Community service not only helps others but also demonstrates your commitment to making a positive impact.

Here are some examples for different interests:

  • Athletes: Organize a charity sports tournament, coach a younger team, or document your athletic journey through a blog or social media.

  • Artists: Lead a school mural project, create an online art gallery, or volunteer to teach art classes to underprivileged children.

  • Musicians: Start a band, perform at community events, or volunteer to play music at senior centers or hospitals.

3. Targeted School Research NOW: Build a Balanced College List

College list building

Define Your Priorities: Consider factors like academic programs, location, size, campus culture, financial aid, and career services. What are your "must-haves" and "deal-breakers"?

Utilize Online Resources: Explore college websites, virtual tours, and online student forums to gather information. Use college search engines to filter schools based on your criteria.

Attend College Fairs and Information Sessions: Talk to college representatives and current students to get a feel for the campus atmosphere and learn more about specific programs.

Visit Campuses (If Possible): While not always feasible, campus visits can provide valuable insights that you can't get online.

Create a Balanced List: Aim for a mix of reach, target, and safety schools. This ensures you have options and increases your chances of getting into a school that's a good fit for you.

4. Goal Setting: Set Your Sights High and Track Your Progress

Set SMART Goals: Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This last one is important because it ensures that you have outcomes that you can demonstrate to the admissions committee and not just a bunch of “in-progress” projects. 

Academic Goals: Aim for a specific GPA, take challenging courses, and prepare for standardized tests.

Extracurricular Goals: Pursue leadership roles, deepen your involvement in your passions, and explore new interests.

Personal Goals: Set goals for personal growth, such as improving your time management skills, developing your communication skills, or exploring your cultural identity.

Here are some examples:

  • Academic Goal: "I will maintain a 3.8 GPA or higher by the end of junior year."

  • Extracurricular Goal: "I will become president of the Debate Club by the end of the summer."

  • Personal Goal: "I will volunteer at a local food bank for 10 hours each month."

5. Application Prep: Get a Head Start on the Process

Start Your College Essay: Brainstorm potential essay topics and begin drafting your personal statement. The essays this year are the same as last year. They are not likely to change again and if they do, they are likely to be a variation of the same one. Give yourself ample time to revise and refine your writing. 


Prepare for Standardized Tests: Register for the SAT or ACT and create a study plan. Take practice tests to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Remember, about 70% of US colleges and universities are test optional. If you are not a great test taker and not interested in applying to any colleges that require it, you can put your efforts into doing all the other things I’ve mentioned in this article to make you a strong applicant. 

Gather Recommendation Letters: Identify teachers and mentors who can write strong letters of recommendation. Ask them early to give them plenty of time to write thoughtful letters.

Create a Resume: Compile a list of your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, awards, volunteer experiences, and work history. Some colleges will allow you to upload one as a part of your application and this can give you an edge to showcase more things about you than the 10 activity spots allotted on the application.

Track Deadlines: Research application deadlines for your schools of interest and create a calendar to stay organized.

6. Transition Planning: Prepare for Life After High School

Financial Aid: Research scholarships, grants, and financial aid options. Many deadlines are in the fall of senior year, so starting your search early is crucial.

Time Management: Practice managing your time effectively to prepare for the increased workload and independence of college life. Create a schedule, set priorities, and learn to avoid procrastination.

  • College Visits: If possible, visit college campuses to get a feel for the environment, talk to current students, and attend information sessions.

  • Mental Health: Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. High school can be stressful, so take time for self-care, relaxation, and activities you enjoy.

By following these simple steps now, you can make the most of your summer before junior year and position yourself for a successful college admissions journey. Remember, this is your time to shine! Embrace the opportunities, explore your passions, and set yourself up for a bright future.

If you would like to learn more about these steps and other strategies that will help you to be a competitive college applicant, book a free consultation session with us at Global College Search Associates where we can curate a specialized plan for your student. You can book that free appointment HERE

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Dr. Bruce C. Neimeyer

Dr. Neimeyer has been in high education enrollment for over 35+ years. The youngest of 7 first-generation college bound siblings, his family learned the hard way about how to navigate the college admissions and financial aid landscape. With that, he dedicated his career to helping others to avoid these mistakes and find their right fit institutions.

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