Grade 11 College Counseling

Junior Year

Grade 11:

Academics: Academically speaking, although all years in high school are important, this year is the most important. By the time students are applying in their senior year, the last grades universities often see are their junior year grades. Meaning, students need to be serious about performing well this year. Their classes need to have been carefully selected for this year, and, if full IB, they need to make the necessary adjustments early in their junior year.

Additionally, this year all students will sit the PSAT in the fall as practice for the real SAT, which they should take in either March or May of their junior year. Although students don’t need to invest extraordinary amounts of their time preparing to the PSAT, they absolutely should prepare for the SAT. This can be done through a variety of different ways such as purchasing a SAT book and using the free online tests, hiring a private tutor, taking online classes or using an in person preparatory program.


Personal and Extracurricular: Students in their junior year should start to be taking on leadership roles within their activities and sports. Additionally, students should seek outside experience such as volunteering at local charities. Lastly, universities like to see students with real world practical experience. This means that students should be taking advantage of universities summer preparatory programs or making sure they are gaining internship experience. The internship experience is particularly important for students who are looking to study in the UK, especially medicine. It’s absolutely essential that a student applying to medical schools in the UK has multiple work experiences in medical settings.

Summer Programs:

Many US and UK universities have summer study programs (example: Duke, UC Boulder, Hult, Harvard), if you’re interested in a particular university we advise researching summer opportunities via their website.

College and Career: There’s a ton of things that students should be doing at various points in their junior year, which is why we have broken it down below.

Late August - December:  

  • Keep grades up!!!

  • They also need to make sure they are tracking and compiling all the information they are finding about universities where they are interested in applying. Please see the attached university tracking excel document for an idea of the important information you need to be compiling from each university. Students can use the search tools from the Grade 10 Resources in the college and career section to continue their college search. Additionally, students should start exploring individual website’s of universities and arrange visits to these universities during breaks from school.

  • Students should begin their SAT preparation for taking the actual SAT in March or May. They also need to make sure that they are registering early for these tests as spots are limited in Abu Dhabi and testing centers fill up quickly. I strongly recommend sitting the SAT at least twice, and I would register for both administrations in September or October for the March, May or October (senior year) administrations.

  • Attend university visits and fairs!

January - May:

  • Attend the mandatory Junior College Night

  • Schedule mandatory student, parent and counselor meeting to discuss the college counseling process

  • Continue preparing for March or May administration of SAT

  • Start narrowing down university choices and separate by country

  • SIT the SAT in March or May

  • Request at least one teacher letter of recommendation. Follow the process EXACTLY. We suggest having two teacher letters of recommendation!

  • Before leaving for school: register for any additional SAT testing, send counselor list of schools that you are strongly considering

  • Familiarize yourself with how to apply to different universities and know which applications you will need to fill out this summer/early fall (US: Common Ap vs. Coalition, Canada: Individual university applications vs. OUAC, Holland: Studie link, UK: UCAS)

  • Attend university visits and fairs!

June - Late August:

  • Work on narrowing down university choices, remember to make sure you have schools in the following categories: reach, comfort and safety. Students need to only have about 1 or 2 school sin the reach category. Additionally, please know that reach is not a jump. If you have a 3.0 GPA and you’re looking at Harvard and any of the ivy’s - that is not a reach, it’s a jump. Most importantly, you ALWAYS need a safety school, and we recommend around 2.

  • Check applications to see if they are open yet. Common Application typically opens on August 1st, but UCAS is open in July.

  • Make sure you are registering for any necessary tests for your senior year: IELTS/TOEFL (English proficiency tests often required for International students), SAT, SAT subject tests, LNAT (for law in the UK), or BMAT/UKCAT (for medicine in the UK).

  • Work on personal statement and/or Common App Essay

  • If you are applying to an Art school then now is the time to work on your portfolio and research portfolio requirements from various universities


College Search Tools: