Dear Junior…

August 22, 2016

Dear Junior,

Hey there upperclassman! You’ve successfully completed half of your high school career, and you’ve only two more years to go! Even though you’ve got two years left, I’d make the argument that your junior year is even more important than your senior year, so here are a few tips to make the most of the 11th grade.

  1. Apply for colleges.

    Don’t just apply for one or two. Apply to several. The more options you have, the better shape you will be in at the end of high school. Not to mention, you might not get into your first choice college, so apply to several. If you don’t know what colleges might be a good fit, take a quick test to discover which colleges and universities might be a good match for you based on your interests and passions.

  2. Get paid to go to college.

    One of the biggest reasons high school students tell me they’re not going to college is because they can’t pay for it. However, there are plenty of ways to pay for college without having to break the bank or your parent’s bank. In fact, you can even get paid to go to college!

    How do you do it? Scholarships.

    There are several types of financial aid, but unlike a loan that you have to pay back, a scholarship is money given to you that you don’t have to pay back. And they’re everywhere!

    Because scholarships are funded by all sorts of organizations, companies and individuals, there are literally billions of dollars that have been made available to help students go to college.

    Remember the old Apple slogan “there’s an app for that”? When the iPhone was first introduced and apps were beginning to become popular, a common joke was that there was an app for everything. “You want coffee brewed automatically when you wake up in the morning? There’s an app for that.” Lame example, but you get my point.

    Similar to how there’s an app for pretty much anything you can think of, there’s also a scholarship for pretty much anything you can think of.

    Are you really tall? There’s a scholarship for that.
    Are you willing to wear Duct tape to prom? There’s a scholarship for that.
    Are you into clowns? There’s a scholarship for that.
    Do you have a twin? There’s a scholarship for that.

    There are scholarships for pretty much everything you can think of, so do yourself a favor and do a scholarship search. The earlier you search for scholarships, the more time you will have to fill out the applications. The applications take time and they are boring to complete, but just look at the paperwork like it’s your job since it will likely pay you for your time.

    I attended the University of New Mexico and qualified for multiple scholarships and had 100% of my college education paid for. In fact, I had more scholarship money than I did expenses for tuition, books and fees, so I literally went to the bursar’s office and asked them to write me a check for the remaining funds, and they did! I was literally paid to get a college education, and you can too.

  3. Apply for grants.

    Another way to fund college is by getting grants. Similar to a scholarship, a grant is money you don’t have to pay back. An example of a popular grant is the Federal Pell Grant. You can qualify for a pell grant as an undergrad college student and you can get paid for up to 6 years! Not too shabby.

  4. Schedule your college prep.

    Make a date with yourself on a consistent basis so you can complete college prep work. This can be your dedicated time for completing applications, applying for scholarships and applying for grants. If you don’t schedule time to do it, you will likely put it off until later. However, many scholarships expire after your junior year, so put college prep on your calendar so you don’t miss out on opportunities that can change your future.

  5. Clean up your social media.

    As you begin your college search, remember that you’re trying to convince colleges to give you permission to attend their school. The most competitive colleges like Stanford only accept 3% of the students who apply for admission. With thousands of students applying to colleges, you want to make the best first impression possible. For most students, this begins by cleaning up your social media. Delete posts or pics that you wouldn’t want your principal or pastor to see. If you’d be embarrassed by any adult seeing your posts, they probably aren’t appropriate.

  6. Get a respectable email address.

    When you’re trying to make a good first impression of colleges, you probably don’t want your email address to be pokemonchaser@gmail.com. Choose something basic like firstnamelastname16@gmail.com. You might even consider making a new email address that you use exclusively for college applications.

  7. Challenge yourself.

    College recruiters aren’t impressed if you coast through high school. Even if you’re not planning on going to college, but plan on going into the military, getting a job or starting a business, you will want to challenge yourself in high school. Whatever class, sport, activity, job or club that you’re part of, challenge yourself in such a way that you can explain to a recruiter how you were challenged and what you did that was above and beyond expectations. This will set you apart from everyone else who is willing to be average, which gives you a competitive edge in your first step after high school.

  8. Become a mentor.

    Choose to leave a legacy at your school. Your legacy is how your life outlives you once you’re gone. Consider becoming a mentor to an incoming freshman. Hang out with them once a week during lunch and give them tips for how to do high school. They will not only appreciate your tips, but will be honored that you care enough to invest in them. Trust me—that person will never forget you for the rest of their life. That’s a pretty good investment of your time. Maybe consider starting a Bible study where you can mentor multiple at the same time. Maybe create a leadership group where you can lead other students and train them to be a leader who is worth following.

  9. Invest wisely.

    Your time is your most valuable asset. It’s more valuable than money, more valuable than your phone, more valuable than your car, and more valuable than the home you live in. Most adults will tell you to make wise investments with your money. While that’s important, what is more important in this chapter of your life is to invest your time wisely. The return on your investment (ROI) can be incredible if you invest wisely.

This is an important year because of how your choices as a junior can not just impact your next chapter after high school, but the rest of your life. Spend some time with the tips above and you’ll be on your way to creating far more opportunities for yourself than most of your classmates.

I suppose I should state the obvious: while you’re looking toward the future, don’t neglect your present. Don’t forget to do your homework, turn in assignments, and study for tests as you’ve done in your freshman and sophomore years. When you do the basic things well, you earn more responsibility. This year you will have more responsibility than you ever have before. Good luck!

Best wishes,
Matt Signature

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