Juniors, start the year off right by giving your best effort in all your classes. The 10th annual State of College Admission 2012 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that "academic performance in college prep courses" has been consistently rated as the top factor by colleges in admission decisions for the past decade. In 2011, 84 percent of colleges reported grades in college prep courses as decisive. One more time for emphasis: the grades you earn and the classes you take are important -- and grades in your junior year can be critical.
So focus your efforts in the classroom. Take a strong academic courseload and challenge yourself. If you are doing less than three hours of homework each day, talk with your counselor about enrolling in more advanced classes. First and foremost, what colleges will want to know about you is what you are like as a learner. Show them that.