Juniors Starts Thinking of College Plans

Gabby Pippins

While juniors at Plano West are beginning to think about college, the process, and their choices, AVID teachers can give some advice on what to expect and how to get an early start. Preparation is one important part of the process.

“I am walking through the college process with my students every year that I have juniors, so we typically would start in the second semester of junior year,” AVID teacher Hayley Moore said. “We write essays ahead of time, and [students] can look up the Apply Texas Essays. We plan out and draft out those essays in the junior year, and then we will also narrow down their college choices to five or six schools that they want to apply to. We ask that they write down all of the headlines, what is required of them, all of that information so that they can plan it out before they leave for the summer. The reason why is because applications typically open in July, so we want our students to have all of that planned out in case they want to get a jump on it. It also takes the pressure off when they get back for senior year because they just have to execute the plan that has already been set for it.”

Moore also said that there have been some changes with the admissions process due to COVID-19

“Yes, and I would say that the major difference has been with SAT and ACT scores,” Moore said. “Since the pandemic happened, a lot of schools have gone to what they are calling test-optional. That just means that if a student has an SAT or ACT score, it may or may not be required for admissions this year. From what I understand, we have a lot of guest speakers come in that are college representatives. They have not yet decided if that will remain into next year, so that is still a question, but that was definitely something that impacted college admissions for the current seniors.”

Before juniors apply to colleges, they need to figure out which ones are for them, and that can be an entire process in and of itself.

“I am looking at colleges that fit my criteria, that are my major/minor choices, activities I am interested in, budget, transportation and location,” junior AVID student Katia Moreno said.

Most already have a good idea of how they will choose between colleges.

“Hardly, there are so many options it is hard to narrow this vital choice down,” junior AP student Kathir Rajesh said. “Multiple factors influence my decision like cost, location, and, the program to name a few. The mere uncertainty of the future is enough to throw me off…I do have a general idea of where I want to go. I lived in California before moving to Texas, and it would be amazing to move back there for college…I am undecided, but I do have an idea and expect to have a top ten by the end of this school year.”

One way to tackle the twists and turns of college is by attending the College Board Big future day.

“To be honest, I had no idea that this event was happening and I am glad [to know about this] because I am happy to attend,” Rajesh said. “It can help with the predicament I am in and help me narrow down my college choices. I feel like people that I know act like college applications are something far in the future, but the reality is that it is right around the corner, and this platform is a stepping stone I can use to make my decisions.”

Another way is by asking Seniors about the process.

“What is something important to keep in mind when filing for applications? How can I assure that I will be in a greater chance to obtain an admission?” Moreno asked.

According to most juniors, the process seems quite nerve-wracking.

“Right now, the process feels like a massive tangled mess that I need to tackle,” Rajesh said. “I have not gotten started on any of the things I need to do. I know relatively little about the process, but I am sure I will learn more at the Virtual college fairs. But I am excited and grateful to attend college, but at the same time, I am dreading it…It feels lengthy and daunting, but I am sure it only feels like this at the start, and as it progresses, it will not seem too daunting…”

A few are not as worried about the process but rather how their choices may influence the future.

“More than nervous I am a little stressed thinking about having to fill in paperwork and making decisions that I know will be important in the future,” Moreno said.

Moore summed things up by stating how the nervousness and stress of the process can be handled and prevented.

“I think that students tend to be a little bit nervous about it, and it can be overwhelming when we do not plan,” Moore said. “That is why I mentioned that I think if we can set forth the blueprint in junior year, that can really keep off those pressures during the senior year and students will not feel as overwhelmed because they are already going to know what is expected of them. I think that as long as we prepare and we know what we are getting into, students should feel at ease about the entire process.”