5 Tips for Juniors from a Former Admissions Officer


Guest Blogger

February 8, 2024

Content written by guest blogger, Oscar Cancio, Senior Director of Enrollment Management at Holston Academy and former College Admissions Officer.

Second semester of Junior year is often the most challenging academic time for students in high school. This is typically when students are in the midst of a stacked academic schedule, preparing for the SAT/ACT in the spring, and getting ready to be leaders for a sports team or school club. If you are enrolled in AP Courses, you’re also gearing up for spring exams. Although you have likely started thinking about college at this point, you haven’t yet applied. It can feel like an overwhelming time of year, but there are several things you can do to plan and prepare for what lies ahead. As a former college admissions officer, I compiled a list of my top tips to share with you!

  1. Start Planning Your Summer
    The beginning of second semester is the perfect time to kickstart your summer plans. It’s never too early to think about how you want to spend your break. Do you aspire to enhance your knowledge with a supplemental class, embark on a meaningful service trip, earn some extra money through a job or internship, or explore our academic interests further? Whatever the case may be, start writing ideas down and think about what you would enjoy the most. If it’s a supplemental summer class you’re interested in, consider taking a class with Holston Academy. Click here to read more about their flexible online summer courses. When I worked as an admissions officer, I could often tell when a student had engaged in a summer activity solely to impress the school I represented. My advice is simple: choose experiences that genuinely resonate with your passions and interests. Your authenticity will shine through in your future college application. Many colleges offer summer programs on their campuses. This is a great opportunity to get to know a school more in-depth and explore a subject area that piques your interest. You will typically stay in the dorms and eat in the dining halls that current students do, gaining valuable insights into campus life. While most of these programs require a tuition fee, scholarship options are usually available. Taking on a summer job can be incredibly valuable as well. It teachers you essential life skills, which will undoubtedly serve you well in college. Working allows you to interact with people from diverse backgrounds, hone your leadership abilities, and boost your self-confidence. It will also help you develop into a more mature and responsible individual. Whether you’re considering a summer program, a job, or any other activity, don’t procrastinate on your planning. The key to a successful summer is early preparation!
  2. Keep a Journal
    You will be doing lots of writing next year as a senior. The colleges you apply to likely require a personal statement and several of them will ask for supplemental essays. In some cases, you may be required to complete an interview as well. One of the best ways to prepare is by keeping a journal on a daily or weekly basis. Writing consistently, outside of the expectations of your high school, helps improve your writing and fosters the development of your thoughts. Keeping a journal serves as a creative outlet, allowing you to articulate your experiences, feelings, and reflections. This consistent practice not only enhances your writing style, but also stimulates your capacity to express yourself with clarity and depth. Your journal can be an invaluable resource when it’s time to craft your personal statement or respond to interview questions. Having a well-documented record of your thoughts and experiences can expedite the brainstorming process and help you identify compelling topics that resonate with your personal journey.

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