Junior Year: College Planning Timeline for Parents and Students

Amy Herbert
If you are the parent of a junior, high school is officially now more than halfway over for your student, and college is most likely a regular topic of conversation in your household.
Here is a list of things you and your 11th grade high school student should be doing now to prepare for college later. At first glance, it may look overwhelming, but remember I am here to help along the way in anyway I can.

  • Run for a leadership position in a club, on a team or as part of student government. This will look great on college applications and will help to leave your mark at Pinecrest.
  • Attend area college fairs like the PROBE Fair, the NACAC Fair and others to meet the recruiting representative for Georgia. Fairs will be a great resource for you in the college process. Confused on what the representative’s role in the admission process is? Check out this video from Georgia Tech to learn more.
  • Prepare for the October PSAT. While this is still a practice test, juniors who do exceptionally well on the PSAT maybe considered for scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship competition.
  • If you haven’t already, start to attend college information sessions at Pinecrest. Make it your goal to attend 5–7 sessions. Bonus points if you push your comfort zone and attend sessions for colleges that you aren’t already extremely familiar with. This is where the best scholarship opportunities are often found! A list of all recruiter visits can be found on Naviance.

  • Take the PSAT.
  • Begin to establish criteria for the type of college you would like to attend. Things to consider are size of the institution, location of the school, public vs private, does the school offer your major, etc. As you discover schools that meet your specific criteria, be sure to add them to the “Schools I Am Thinking About Applying To” list in Naviance.
  • Consider registering for an SAT or ACT administration in November or December. To maximize your super score, you’ll want to take the SAT or ACT (depending on preference) 2–3 times before submitting your first college applications. Ideal months to test would be November/December, January/March and May/June.

  • Evaluate your progress report grades and determine what you need to improve on to meet your academic goals for the year. The #1 factor colleges list in acceptance criteria is grades in college prep level courses.
  • If you haven’t already registered for your first SAT/ACT, do so now. Ideal months to test would be November/December, January/March and May/June; then you only have to test in September/October of your senior year in extreme cases. Review each school’s policy on whether taking the writing portion is necessary; best plan would be to take it at least once to be safe.
  • Make a plan to visit 1–2 college campuses during the Thanksgiving and/or Christmas Breaks. Consider visiting like institutions if you can’t get to the specific school you want to apply to. For example, if you are thinking about LSU or Alabama, but can’t get there, consider visiting Georgia to see if you like how a large state school feels.
  • Get on colleges’ radar via visiting their website and requesting information, attending college fairs, introducing yourself to representatives or sending your test scores to them.

  • PSAT student reports are distributed. Read the information carefully, interpret your performance and make a plan to improve on areas of opportunity. Ways to study could include taking an ACT/SAT test-prep class at Pinecrest in the Spring, attend sessions at a test prep company or do an independent study through the Kahn Academy or a test-prep book.
  • Create a plan to study for end of semester tests. Be sure to reach out to your teachers early and often for any extra help you may need. Remember, the grade point average you initially provide to colleges when you apply is cumulative through the end of junior year so put your best foot forward.

In short, Junior year is a time to explore, learn and process options. But above all, it's a time to enjoy with your son/daughter as you explore this process together. Best of luck to you and your family!

Amy Herbert is the High School College Counselor for Pinecrest Academy. She can be reached at
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK3-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.