Watch CBSN Live

6 Things High School Juniors Need to Do Now

In the college admission process, junior year is critical. It's the last full academic year that teenagers will Classroom of empty deskshave to impress colleges.

So what should a high school junior be doing this year? Here's six things they can do now:

1. Focus on grades.

For most colleges and universities, your grade point average is the No. 1 admission factor. It's no wonder since studies show that your high school GPA - not standardized test scores - is the biggest predictor of success in college.

2. Take challenging classes.

Colleges want to see that you've taken rigorous classes. This doesn't mean that you must overdose with three or four Advanced Placement classes in one semester. You don't want to get so overwhelmed with hard courses that your grades tank. If you've already got colleges on your list, check to make sure you're on track to take the courses the institutions require.

3. Get involved.

Colleges get excited about active students who have done interesting things in high school. Colleges wants engaged students on their campus and they assume that kids who were involved in activities as teenagers will continue to do that as college students.

4. Get a preliminary financial aid verdict.

Most students have no idea what kind of financial aid package they might get until they've applied. Now is an excellent time to get a financial aid pre-read. You can find out what that is in one of my previous posts:

What's This College Really Going to Cost?

5. Get ready for summer.

After the Christmas holidays, teens should start looking for summer jobs or internships opportunities.

6. Decide when you want to take the SAT or ACT.

Some teens do better on the SAT and others on the ACT. Here's my post about which test to take:

SAT and ACT: Which is the Better Test?
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
High school juniors image by dcJohn. CC 2.0.