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Focusing On The High School Timeline: 11th Grade

Welcome to 11th grade, which is arguably the most important year when it comes to your teenager’s college prospects. Here’s what you need to know.


While admissions officers will often overlook low grades early in high school, by the time junior year rolls around, they like to see that students have flourished academically.  Grades C and below will not be helpful in this regard, so make sure your student is enrolled in classes in which she can do well.

Course selection.

That doesn’t mean you should enroll your student in just easy classes. Admissions officers will want to see that your student has challenged herself in high school. Your student does not need to take every AP class your high school offers, but if she’s capable of earning an A or a B in an advanced class, then she should be taking some this year.


By junior year, your teenager should have committed to a couple of extracurriculars. Again, these should be extracurriculars your teenager has an authentic interest in; the specific extracurricular really doesn’t matter. Encourage your teenager to assume a leadership role in at least one extracurricular if possible.

Understand the admissions process. 

Now’s the time to get a handle on what today’s college admissions process looks like — and we can tell you in under five minutes (guaranteed).


This is the year when most students will take the ACT or SAT. Ideally, your student should study for the test the summer before junior year, then take it in the fall. But if that’s not possible, then check testing schedules and settle on a date that gives your student time to prepare.

College visits.

Spring break of junior year is often when families tour colleges. If you can’t afford a road trip, consider visiting colleges in your area to get a sense of what kind of campus (big, small, urban, rural) your student prefers.

College costs.

Now’s the time to really dig in and understand how much your family will be expected to pay toward your student’s tuition (it differs from family to family). Evaluating costs for a specific college is an important component of deciding whether or not to put a college on the “apply to” list.

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