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Junior Toolkit

Section 1: Academic Planning

“ Make sure that your class schedule demonstrates that you are taking advantage of all that your school offers. Talk to your counselor and parents to help determine the right program for you. Colleges will want to see that you are pursuing a strong schedule, but they will also want to see good grades. ” 

- University of Virginia

Students engaged in academic planning

What courses should I take in my junior year?

That depends. Colleges do expect you to challenge yourself, taking progressively harder classes each year. In your junior year, this means at least a few advanced classes if they’re available to you, in addition to one class in each of the core subjects (English, Math, Science, Social Science and Foreign Language). In other words, colleges expect you to push your limits and take some academic risks.

As you begin to consider which colleges you might want to apply to, check out each school’s academic expectations, which most colleges provide on their websites. Do they have specific entrance requirements? Do they provide recommendations that will make you a stronger applicant?

There’s one thing to be aware of as you plan your academic year: your personal talents and interests. Think about what you have enjoyed learning so far. Does your high school offer opportunities to explore this further? If you’re interested in technology, for instance, look for a computer science course that will fit in your schedule.

And keep in mind that academic advancement doesn’t necessarily have to take place in a classroom or a school setting.  Ask yourself how you can build on your interests on your own, outside of class.

Some of the questions answered in this section's video:

My friend’s school offers AP Biology, but mine doesn’t. Will that hurt my chances?

I want to take a harder class, but I’m afraid to get a B on my transcript. What should I do?

I took two years of Spanish. Do I need to keep taking it?

I know exactly what I want to major in. Do I need to take any specific classes this year?


Video: Academic Planning (3:52)

Things to Remember:

  • Admissions officers know exactly what is available at your school, and they know what isn’t available as well. They will evaluate you and your application with this in mind.
  • As a junior, you should push yourself harder than you did as a sophomore. Taking advanced classes, even if you’re less likely to get an A, is a good idea… as long as you know you can handle a heavier course load.
  • It’s a balancing act. What can you take that shows you’re willing to take risks, but that will allow you to continue to thrive academically? This is different for everyone, and should be considered carefully.


Other Sections in the Junior Toolkit: