Planning ahead for senior year

Noah Quillan, Editor-in-chief

The most stressful year for high school students is typically their junior year. This is typically due to the fact that junior year is when students should start venturing out and looking at colleges, deciding what they want to do with their lives and setting the groundwork for how to get there. This is the year where many get their licenses and possibly get their first job. College should start to become more prevalent in the minds of students around this time and scholarships should be heavily looked at. There are a large number of financial aids that are available for students to claim, yet a good handful are left unused, which means that potential free money goes to waste in regards to students.

“The most important thing for juniors to be doing right now is taking the SAT and ACT,” explained Mrs. Norris. “Most take it two to three times.”

SAT and ACT Dates: Outside of the cafeteria, there is a large board which has lots of useful information. One piece of information presented are the SAT and ACT test dates. “In junior year of high school, the SAT and ACT are beneficial for students who wish to attend college. One of the first things that colleges look at are those scores, so it’s important to do well on the,” advised Kaitlyn Shafer.

Students can find information regarding the SAT and ACT on the Manatee High website. There are still multiple test days open before the end of the school year. It is highly recommended for juniors to start taking these tests around this time as they will need to be included in college application forms. There are a large scale of test-prep resources, one being Khan Academy. Khan offers a unique experience by tailoring each student’s strengths and weaknesses depending on how they did with various categories on the tests themselves.

“Sign up for the SAT and ACT as many times as you can. Make sure you don’t sleep in and miss them like I did,” suggested Caitlyn Pierce, a current senior.

Most know of the Bright Futures Scholarship, a scholarship that is based on a list of requirements. If those requirements are met, the student is eligible to claim the amount for that tier. There are three different levels to the scholarship: Academic, Medallion, and Gold Seal. There are slight differences in terms of requirements for the three tiers, though the dollar amount between the three is quite substantial. Bright Futures information can be found here.

There are thousands of scholarship opportunities nationwide, however, some local organizations and companies offer scholarships as well. That list can be found here, on the Manatee High website. When certain scholarships are not applied for, the money goes unused. Even though some of them may be time consuming, the amount of money can certainly add up.

Mrs. Norris suggested to go on the website FastWeb. Once someone is on the site, they can create an account and answer the questions given, like what a student is looking to major in or how much their family income is. After the account is created, FastWeb creates a specific list of scholarships that are catered to the information provided. This cuts down on time looking for scholarships that may not be applicable to them, or even perhaps find ones that they may have not found without the help of this site.

For first-generation college students, the process can be tough. Luckily for Manatee High attendees, the College and Career Center is a great resource and Mrs. Norris says that she always welcomes people into the room.

“They’re absolutely welcome to come see me. There’s tons of information on the website, but they should just make an appointment to come see me for help. I can’t do the process for them, but I can guide them through it,” she explained.

Another thing that juniors should be doing is creating a resume, or at least a draft of one. It is good to put information like athletics, awards, clubs, volunteering and industry certifications a student may or may not have. Templates for resumes can be found online and in the College and Career Center, which is located across from the guidance counselor rooms, located on the second floor of building two.

Picking the perfect college is always a tough decision. For those who are unsure of exactly what they want to major in, choosing a school that has a large variety is key. For those who think they know exactly what they want to major in, finding a school that specifies in that major is a good choice. Also, deciding whether the individual would rather go to a large school or a smaller school is a choice, as is deciding whether or not the person wants to stay in Florida or go to college out of state. All of these decisions are based on personal preference, so it is good to have thorough research on all available options.

One junior, Jordyn Sword, gave insight into what she is personally doing to get ready for college. “I’m taking my PERT, SAT and ACT. I’ve started touring colleges and looking for different scholarships. I’m also starting dual enrollment classes now so I can get ahead.”

There are plenty of things to start doing junior year to get a roll on what needs to be completed before going to college. Seeing Mrs. Norris, attending college workshops and doing plenty of research are just a few of the things juniors can be doing. Senior year is just months away and the window to start doing things will dwindle down quicker than many would like it to.