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5 Things High School Juniors Should Be Doing Now

At this time of the year a lot of focus is trained on high school seniors getting ready to apply to college. If you missed it, here are tips that I gave them recently:

20 Things High School Seniors Should Be Doing Now
Today, however, I want to share some advice with high school juniors, who also need to be preparing for college:

1. Focus on your grades.

In an annual survey of colleges conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, nearly 87% of colleges characterized grades in college prep classes as considerably important.

2. Take challenging classes.

No one is suggesting that you need to overdose on Advanced Placement classes, but you should take some rigorous courses. What's considered rigorous? Besides AP classes, International Baccalaureate and community college courses fit the bill.

In that NACAC survey, 71% of schools said that the strength of a student's curriculum was considerably important - far more than test scores (58%).

3. Take a practice ACT and SAT.

Some teens fare better on the ACT and others on the SAT and taking a practice run can help you decide which to select. Learn the differences between the two tests so you can take the one that plays to your strengths.

SAT and ACT: Which is the Better Test?

4. Have a financial talk.

Don't wait until you're a senior to talk to your parents about who is going to pay what for college. How much can you and your parents afford? If necessary, how much are you and your parents willing to borrow?

5. Determine how much a college will cost.

Colleges are priced like airline tickets; everybody pays a different price. That means what you pay could be vastly different from what the parents of your best friend pays. You can get a personalized estimate of what a particular college will cost you by using any institution's net price calculator.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and the Shrinking the Cost of College workbook. She also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.

Read More on The College Solution:

Where Professors Send Their Children to College
25 Private Colleges With the Best Graduation Rates
25 Facts About Today's College Freshmen
High school junior image by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget. CC 2.0.
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