Preparing for College: Juniors & Seniors
It's crunch time. During your junior and senior years, you should focus not only on your grades and ACT scores, but also your goals for college and beyond.
Junior Year of High School, grade 11
- Review admission requirements. Make sure you're taking the right courses to be accepted to the college or colleges that interest you.
- Prepare for and take college entrance exams. Most colleges consider your ACT or SAT scores when making admission decisions. If you are enrolled in an Illinois public school, you will take the ACT exam as part of the Prairie State Assessment Examination (PSAE) during April of your junior year. You may want to brush up on subjects such as English, math, and science before the exam. Some students also take ACT or SAT preparation courses. Don't stress too much about the tests. You can always retake them if you aren't happy with your results.
- Decide what you're looking for in a college. Do you want to stay in-state or go far away? Do you prefer a large, public university or a small, private college? What academic programs are you interested in? Which schools have the extra-curricular activities that are important to you?
- Visit colleges that interest you. It's nearly impossible to choose a college or university without visiting the campus. You need to get a feel for the place before you can decide if it's the right fit. At Illinois State, we offer many opportunities for you to visit campus with your family. You can attend an Open House, which is a large program that shows all our campus has to offer, or a smaller group tour called a Campus Information Session.
- Search for scholarships. Your high school guidance counselors’ office is a good place to start. They know about the scholarships available only to students in your school, town, or county which are typically easier to get because the applicant pool is smaller. Also, check out scholarships for Illinois State students through our Scholarship Resource Office.
Senior Year of High School, grade 12
- Prepare your applications. During the fall of your senior year, you'll start submitting your college admission applications. For most of them, you'll need supporting documents such as test scores, high school transcripts, and personal statements. For best consideration at Illinois State, we strongly encourage you to apply for admission as a new beginning freshman during our Preferred Filing Period from September 1 through November 15.
- Stay organized. Once acceptance letters starting coming in, you'll receive a great deal of information from all of the colleges which accepted you. You'll find out about financial aid, housing, enrollment deposits, and orientation. Keep a folder for each school to which you apply, so that you can read and keep each piece of correspondence that you receive. Be sure to note important dates and deadlines.
- File your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Most schools use the FAFSA to determine what federal, state, and institutional financial aid you will receive. You may apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov starting in January of your senior year. At Illinois State, if you apply by our preferred deadline on March 1, you'll receive an award notice in early April that will tell you exactly what aid you would receive here.
- Talk with your family. Get your parents' input on the colleges you are considering. Be sure to discuss your potential financial aid packages.
- Make your decision. Typically, you must commit to a college by May 1 of your senior year. That's the deadline for your enrollment deposit at Illinois State. Before you decide, you may want to make another round of visits to the schools which accepted you. Take a closer look at the residence halls and dining center. Schedule an appointment with the academic department of your intended major. Really concentrate of figuring out if the school is right for you.