Juniors… these questions will help you narrow your college choices

By narrowing your college choices now, you’ll be better prepared to apply for financial aid and college admission early next fall. Start by answering these questions.

What do you want to study?
Explore your career interests and then research colleges that offer programs in areas you may want to pursue. Use college selection tools like College Profiles at EducationQuest.org.

What kind of school do you want to attend?

Do you prefer a large university or a small college? Are you interested in a community college? What kind of student/teacher ratio do you want?

Where do you want to go to college?

Do you want to live close to home or far away? Do you want to be in a major city or a small town? How big of a factor is out-of-state or private school tuition? If you want to go out of state, investigate programs like the Midwest Student Exchange Program which may provide discounted tuition.

What can you afford?

Consider overall costs: tuition, room and board, books, transportation, and personal expenses. (See “About Nebraska Colleges” for costs.) Determine what you and your parents can afford to pay out-of-pocket and plan to apply for financial aid to help make up the difference. Calculate the loan debt you and your parents may need to incur to pay for your college education.

For more details, see Selecting a College at EducationQuest.org.

Juniors…start researching colleges

If you narrow your college choices by the end of your junior year, your senior year will be less stressful. Here’s how to get started:

Review College Profiles at EducationQuest.org for information about colleges in Nebraska and across the country. If you’re interested in an out-of-state school, check out the Midwest Student Exchange Program to learn about tuition discounts.

Meet with college representatives who visit your school, and then visit the websites of the colleges that interest you to learn more about the schools.

​​​​​​​Once you’ve narrowed your choices, schedule campus visits. Try to visit in the spring of your junior year while colleges are still in session.

For more tips, see the Finding the Right Fit section at EducationQuest.org.

Future Educator?

To be admitted to a Nebraska teacher preparation program, candidates must take and pass the Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators – a basic skills test that measures reading, writing, and math skills to determine a candidate’s readiness to enter a teacher education program.
With that in mind, I am asking those students who are considering teaching as a career to take the Praxis® Core test in their junior or senior year.
Praxis® results are good for 5 years!
Information about the Praxis® Core test can be found at: https://www.ets.org/praxis/about
Dates, times and testing center locations can be found at: https://www.ets.org/praxis/register
For information about Nebraska’s certification and requirements, visit: https://www.ets.org/praxis/ne
You may also contact Mrs. Hanel if  you have questions.

Juniors planning to attend Northeast or Southeast Community College are encouraged to apply for early admission, due to the large number of students applying in certain areas and being put on a waiting list.  It is highly recommended that you set up a College Visit and discuss your career choices NOW. 


The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Nebraska Now program gives high school juniors and seniors the chance to enroll in first-year courses on campus or online at a discounted rate. Along with getting the real-world experience of attending a Big Ten school and earning university credits, participants will have access to a dedicated academic coach and will form relationships with college students and professors—all for an unbeatable value.

Even if Nebraska Now participants don’t become full-time Huskers after graduation, credits earned through the program can easily be transferred and will look impressive on transcripts.



Ellen Sundermeier, the Nebraska Now advisor and academic coach, is your go-to point of contact for any questions regarding the program. You can contact Ellen and the Nebraska Now team at 402-472-8000 or reach out to the Office of Admissions at admissions@unl.edu or 402-472-2023 with any questions! 


College Students Share Must-Do's for High School Juniors


student researching on laptop

Junior year is the time to start researching potential colleges and scholarships. (Getty Images)

A successful college application typically involves months of hard work, which often begins during a student's junior year of high school. If you are a junior who has not yet started to build your applications, make plans to begin this spring.

To help you achieve this goal, two current college students recently shared their must-complete tasks. These three areas of focus are crucial for any college-bound junior.

Admissions Research

Jacob Platt, a senior at St. Ambrose University in Iowa, and Megan Grove, a junior at Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville, both stress the importance of beginning any college-related research during junior year.

This includes the development of a short list of schools that interest you, but make sure the research extends beyond a cursory examination of college websites.

Platt, for instance, reached out to those schools that most appealed to him "because they often have more information than is offered on a website," he said via email.

High school juniors should also personalize their research according to goals and passions to ensure an ideal college fit. For example, due to his interest in athletics, Platt forwarded his highlight films to college football coaches as part of his junior year research.

Test Preparation

While it is possible to take the ACT or SAT as a high school senior, many admissions experts recommend doing so in your junior year.

This is the path that Grove and Platt selected. Both students completed the ACT, and they cited the ability to retake it as an important factor in their decision. Grove said via email that beginning in junior year "helped me to achieve the ACT score I wanted."

However, keep in mind that reaching a target score on the ACT or SAT involves more than sitting for the exam two or three times. Platt says planning to take either college entrance exam as a junior will afford you more time to study. In his junior year, he took an ACT prep course as well as a practice test through his high school.

Grove and Platt both caution high school students to avoid waiting until senior year to prepare for and take standardized tests, as it can be stressful and busy. "I found it extremely helpful to begin tasks my junior year instead of waiting and letting them pile up," Grove said.

This mentality was one that worked well for Platt as well. "I was not satisfied with my first ACT score, but since I had plenty of time before I was planning on applying to colleges, I was able to retake it and improve my score," he said.

[Don't make these end-of-year mistakes as a junior or senior.]


Certain scholarships accept applications from high school juniors. But starting to work on scholarship searches and applications early can be beneficial even if the awards aren't open to juniors. Platt said he investigated potential scholarships before his senior year: "Scholarships often have hard deadlines and can require a bit of time and effort to ensure that your application is as competitive as can be."

In addition to identifying scholarships that are good matches for your academic and extracurricular profile, you can draft any required essays or documents like a resume.

Platt advises current high school students to avoid making light of this critical task: "Scholarship applications can be tedious if they require essays or short answers, but education can be expensive and scholarships are offered to give you every opportunity possible to receive an education."

For Grove and Platt, finishing these critical tasks gave them a head start on college applications. They say their senior years were more manageable as a result, allowing them to better enjoy their final months before embarking on a new academic journey.