Guide to a Student’s Successful Junior and Senior Year

Your student is about to embark on the second half of his or her high school career. It’s an important time – and your teen’s last chance to enhance his or her resume, raise those grades and prepare for the impending college application process. How can you guide him or her to achieve continued success? Here’s a guide to help your student through these next two years.

Junior year
Tip 1: Maintain GPA and/or improve grades. You’ve probably heard before that junior year is the most important year of high school. From a college admissions standpoint, it’s true. If your teen’s cumulative GPA could use a boost, now is the time to buckle down. However, if your teen’s GPA is strong, he or she should work to maintain those good grades, even with a more challenging course load and busy schedule.

Tip 2: Develop a schedule of challenging courses. When it comes time to apply for colleges, GPA is important, but just as important is a challenging curriculum that will prepare your teen for college-level course work. Your teen should meet regularly with his or her guidance counselor this year to be sure he or she is taking the appropriate number (and level) of classes.

Tip 3: Get involved. If your teen has been getting settled in high school these last two years, now is a good time to boost the resume with meaningful activities. What is your teen interested in? What are his or her strengths? Help your teen discover who he or she is by engaging in extracurricular experiences that will demonstrate his or her commitment and passion to colleges.

Tip 4: Nurture teacher relationships. Letters of recommendation can be a vital component of the overall college application package, so if your teen has not developed good relationships with teachers yet, this year is a good opportunity. Teachers and guidance counselors can also be valuable resources for advice on colleges, majors and more.

Senior year

Tip 1: Stay focused on grades. Even if your teen applies to early action and early decision programs at colleges, it’s important to maintain good grades. Colleges will rescind admissions offers if they see a significant drop in grades senior year, or they may put new freshmen on probation for a semester.

Tip 2: Get started early. The college application process can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Planning ahead will pay off later. Encourage your teen to be head of the game - start working on the personal essay, take the SAT and/or ACT one final time (if needed) in October or November, and give him or herself plenty of time to develop the best application package possible.

Tip 3: Work on time management. Senior year is busy. It’s also a good time to fine-tune those time management skills, which will be key to your teen’s success in college and in his or her career. Help your teen learn to prioritize, manage his or her time well and avoid procrastination.

Tip #4: Develop strengths. Selling oneself to colleges is uncomfortable for many students, but it also allows students to learn more about their areas of strength and weakness. Your teen should take this time to assess his or her abilities and interests. Doing so may give him or her new ideas for college majors, but it will also help your teen identify areas where he or she could better him or herself.

The college search process begins practically the moment your teen starts high school, and while there is a long list of to-dos, there are a few simple things your teen can do to ease the process. Staying organized, making studying and homework a priority, and staying in touch with the guidance or college counselor will make your teen’s final two years of high school smooth and enjoyable.

Parents who want additional information are encouraged to call the local Huntington Learning Center at 804-796-5500.

Melvin and Stacy Mitchell are the owners of the local Huntington Learning Center, which has been helping children succeed in school for more than 30 years.  For more information about Huntington, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.

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