Class of 2020

Two Down, Two to Go —Junior Year is Here

Time to “get serious” about the future

Welcome to Your Junior Year!

Do you sense something a little different this school year? A sense of excitement —maybe even control—over your future? Or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about your future. Are you getting your first letters from colleges or universities? Earning your first paychecks from a part-time job? Feeling the urge that it’s time to “get serious” about future stuff? And let’s not forget balancing all of that with homework, studying, friends, sports, activities—all the challenges of being a junior. It’s easy to get stressed out.


All it takes to prepare yourself for the future is a little planning—and your junior year is the perfect time to start!

Get the guide from the college and career readiness experts at ACT to map out ways you can start preparing for your future right now. It all starts by asking yourself five basic questions, then figuring out the answers.

Your Junior Year Checklist

It might seem like high school is taking forever to finish. But believe it or not, the next two years will fly by, and graduation is coming up fast.

Are you ready for what comes after graduation?

The trick is to plan out small steps leading to the big leap into college and career. Access this junior year timeline for a step-by-step path to make sure you have all the future-planning bases covered during your last two years.

Create a College List

There are more than 4,500 degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States. How do you sort through all these options and select the few institutions you want to learn more about? The type of colleges you consider will depend on your goals and expectations.

There are plenty of aspects to consider, but start with these:


What subject would you enjoy studying?

Which colleges offer that subject as a major?

If undecided, which colleges have support systems that help you explore interests and majors?


Do you want to attend a school close to home?

Do you want to live in a big city or is a small town more appealing?

Is there a certain part of the country where you’d like to live?


Do you prefer a more intimate atmosphere or more anonymity?

Would you enjoy larger facilities, more programs, and a greater range of extracurricular activities?

Or more discussion-based classes, a greater chance of participation, and less distance between you and professors?

Cost of Attendance

What is the cost posted on the college or university website or materials?

What scholarships and financial aid options does the college provide?

Will you receive any help paying for college?


Is there a specific activity you’d like to explore in college?

Which colleges offer clubs or organizations in that area?

Admission Difficulty

When comparing yourself to your graduating high school class, how do you rank?

Do you think you’d be able to get into a selective college?

Once you’ve considered these factors, which is your highest priority? Use it to start finding and researching colleges. For example, if staying close to home is the most important thing to you, search for colleges near you and start compiling your list.

If you find that more than 20 colleges align with your highest priority, move to the second-most-important priority. For example, if you find multiple colleges with great programs for your major, and you know being at a large school is the second-highest priority, you can eliminate smaller colleges from your list.

Keep going down your priority list until you have around 8-15 colleges you really want to spend time researching.