Junior year checklist


Isabella Bonilla

Welcome to your junior year of high school. Between the PSAT, scheduling your ACT/SAT, college hunting and all the other pressing matters, there’s little room left to breathe. Not to mention the roaring pandemic whipping through the background that only adds to the confusion. Is the ACT/SAT still going on? Do I need to sign up for it? What do I need to sign up for or start doing before senior year? What’s even going on anymore?

NTI has demanded heavier expectations from students and brought forth communication difficulties — definitely not the best mix. We’ve compiled a checklist to help remind and encourage students on how to stay on top of junior year academics and hopefully help answer some questions.

Check-in with your counselor

Even if you don’t feel it may be necessary, find the time to either get on a video call or email your counselor. Getting to know your counselor sooner rather than later can help put a name to a face and make you more comfortable with them, especially if a situation arises where you may need their help. This is the individual who will help send any transcripts to colleges, answer your questions and can help make the college application process run smoothly. Meeting one-on-one is a beneficial way to introduce yourself, your future interests or the path you intend to take and ask any questions. They may be able to offer you additional insight to certain colleges, trade schools, available scholarships or opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise known existed. 

Challenge yourself to come up with at least three questions and then contact your counselor via email.  Mr. Fowler works with all YPAS students and Mrs. Johnston and Mrs. Meeron work with Manual juniors. Find their emails here.

Potential questions include: What is FAFSA and how do I apply for it? What are some ways I can become more involved in the school? What’s going on with the ACT this year?

Create your college list 

College Board, Niche and Unigo are all free, credible sites that help you find colleges, trade schools and scholarships. All of these sites have a place to create a virtual college list. By agreeing to certain terms and conditions when signing up, you can allow colleges to view your profile and send you information via email or mail. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a vast majority of colleges are conducting virtual tours or restricting hours of operation. Find time with your parent/guardian to discuss options and what tours you may attend. Youtube also hosts a diverse array of videos made by attending college students who discuss the pros and cons of their school. 

Schedule tests dates

While the PSAT has come and gone,  ACT and SAT sessions are still plenty available starting 2021. Unlike the PSAT, you may take the ACT and SAT multiple times, although at a fee. 

Before you start signing up for anything, take a minute to reflect on whether you need to take just one or both tests. This is definitely something you may want to consult your counselor with. Kentucky high school students are required to take the ACT at some point, although you’re allowed to skip on the writing portion if desired. The option to take the SAT is still available, and some students actually do better on it than on the ACT. Check out the key differences between the two and which one plays more to your strengths. 

Create your account and sign up for the ACT here.

Use your College Board account to sign up for the SAT here.

Sign up for KHEAA and Common App

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) is a government agency that provides financial aid and administers student loan programs. Does KEES money sound familiar? Every Kentucky high school student is eligible for programs such as the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES). The KEES program is eligible for students who have at least a 2.5 GPA each year at a certified Kentucky high school. The better you do academically, the more money you automatically earn. Your GPA, ACT and AP scores all generate award amounts as well. 

Create an account in order to access your KEES money and other available scholarships. Contact your counselor once you’ve set up your account in order for them to complete the verification process and sync any data. 

Common App is another beneficial tool to begin familiarizing yourself with. Many colleges use the common application form for their application processes; Common App helps you organize and complete this necessary information. Their site also boasts the first-year essay prompts to practice as well as application guides. This is more of a tool for seniors, but it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and see what’s to come. 

Find study materials and a routine 

The Internet is crammed with all sorts of information and free study materials — it’s just a matter of finding them. We’ve included a few places to find resources or practice problems/exams. 

Don’t overwhelm yourself and remember to have at least one full day away from any school work or studying.  It may be helpful to create a loose schedule, such as dedicating certain days to reviewing certain subjects (Ex: At least x amount of time will be dedicated to reviewing Chemistry on Mondays and Thursdays).

Have a plan, but don’t be too rigid with it. Life’s too short to stress about cramming in AP coursework all day or be staring at a computer screen in your bedroom until late at night.  It’s important to be hard-working and dedicated, but it’s also important to go outside, be with friends and family and be kind to yourself. A healthy balance now can help enable a healthy balance later. 


  1. Check-in with your counselor.
  2. Start on your college list and plan tours.
  3. Schedule your ACT test date or SAT test date.
  4. Set up your KHEAA and Common App accounts.
  5. Expand on your study materials and keep a steady routine.