College Planning Checklist – Junior Year

For both students and parents, it is crucial to stay on top of college preparation during the junior year and the following summer. Here is what you should be doing – looking into careers, searching for scholarships, and keeping the savings account on track.

Students – To Do:

All Year

  • Explore careers and their earning potential in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Or, for a fun and interactive tool, try the U.S. Department of Labor’s career search.
  • Learn about choosing a college.
  • Go to college fairs and college preparation presentations by college representatives.


  • Take the PSAT. You must take the test in your junior year to qualify for scholarships and programs associated with the National Merit Scholarship Program.


  • Register for and take the SAT and ACT exams for college admission. Remember, register for all tests in advance and be sure to give yourself time to prepare appropriately.
  • Use the U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search to find scholarships for which you might want to apply. Some deadlines fall as early as the summer between the junior and senior year, so prepare now to submit applications soon.

Summer Before Senior Year

  • Narrow down the list of colleges that you are considering attending. If you can, visit the schools that interest you.
  • Contact colleges to request information and applications for admission. Ask about financial aid, admission requirements, and deadlines.
  • Decide whether you are going to apply under a particular college’s early decision or early action program. Be sure to learn about the program deadlines and requirements.
  • Use the FAFSA4caster financial aid estimator, and compare the results to the actual costs at the colleges to which you will apply. To supplement any aid estimate, you might receive, be sure to apply for scholarships. Your goal is to minimize the amount of loan funds you borrow.
  • Find out what government financial aid you can apply for, and how, in Do You Need Money for College – Federal Student Aid at a Glance.


  • Take a look at your financial situation, and be sure you are on the right track to pay for college.
  • Talk to your student about the schools he or she is considering. As why those schools appeal to your child, and help him or her clarify goals and priorities.
  • Take your child to visit college campuses, preferably when classes are in session.
  • Ask your employer whether scholarships are available for employees’ children.