Once junior year arrives, the college process really takes off and your GPA becomes especially important. Your GPA is a reflection of your performance in grades 9, 10, and 11, and colleges will be looking at that in addition to your standardized test scores. Many schools will provide students with the option to take the SAT or the ACT—we think it’s wise to take both.
The ACT contains four sections designed to measure the knowledge you’ve gained in English, math, reading, and science during high school. There’s also an optional writing section, which some colleges require. On the other hand, the SAT contains three sections—Evidence Based Reading and Writing (two parts), mathematics (two parts), and writing (one part, optional)—and measures academic potential. Colleges and universities usually take both SAT and ACT scores, and will only consider the higher score of the two. If you submit both scores, or multiple scores for just one of the tests, admissions offices will combine your best scores to give you the best result.
If you’re not quite ready to apply with the scores you earned, you can take the tests again. We recommend referring to Stutorialz’s test prep resources and practices tests ahead of the big day to maximize your chances for success.
Letter of Recommendation
In addition to test scores, you may be required to send a letter (or two) of recommendation with your college application. It’s best to approach your teachers and guidance counselor about writing a letter for you before summer break between your junior and senior years. If your school has a policy about how, when, or who to ask to complete your recommendation, make sure you follow it.
You also may want to create a resume that highlights all of your high school accomplishments and extracurricular activities. Even if you don’t need your resume for a college application, it’s beneficial to start one so you can continue to add to it each year—you’ll definitely need one down the road and you don’t want to forget to include all of your high school achievements.
So you have the necessary documents—but where do you want to spend your college years? As a high school junior, it’s important to set foot on college campuses so you can see where you feel comfortable before you apply. Visits will help you figure out what you do and do not like about different colleges and universities: size, distance from home, landscape, climate, and specialties are all critical factors to consider. Your counselor may also be able to recommend schools based on your personality and where they think would feel at home. You can schedule campus visits by calling the admissions office, and while you’re there, you can get information about financial aid, drop-in classes, dorm visits, and more.
If you’re planning to play Division I or II sports in college, it’s still important to consider things like academics, financial needs, and student life. To play a collegiate sport, you’ll also have to be academically eligible as you leave high school. For details about those requirements and more, visit the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Tips for eleventh grade
- Take the SAT, ACT, or both
- Ask for letters of recommendation
- Explore colleges that would be a good fit.
- Visit schools to see what you like (and don’t)