• College Planning Timeline

    Freshman Year

    • Build strong academic, language, mathematics and critical thinking skills by taking challenging courses. 
    • Study hard and get good grades.
    • Strengthen your vocabulary by increasing your reading.
    • Become involved in co-curricular activities.
    • Meet with your high school guidance counselor and discuss your plans for the next four years.
    • Browse through college literature or surf the Web to get an idea of what kinds of schools interest you.
    • Check out what high school courses colleges require.
    • Research career possibilities.
    • Begin saving money for college.

    Sophomore Year

    • Concentrate on academic preparation and continue to develop basic skills and co-curricular interests.


    • Talk to your guidance counselor about taking the PLAN this fall. The Plan is a preliminary standardized test that will prepare you for the ACT.
    • Consult your guidance counselor about taking the PSAT in October. This is a preliminary test that will prepare you for the SAT. 


    • Take the PLAN and/or PSAT for practice. The results will not be used for college admission. 
    • Keep a record of your co-curricular involvement, volunteer work, and employment. 


    • Make sure you are “on top” of your academic work. If necessary meet with your teachers for additional help.


    • Receive results of PLAN and/or the PSAT. Read materials sent with your score. Consult your guidance counselor for ways to improve future scores.
    • Keep studying!
    • Volunteer- a great way to identify your interests and to develop skills.


    • Continue to research career options and consider possible college majors that will help you achieve your career goals.


    • Make your summer productive.  Continue reading to increase your vocabulary.

    Junior Year

    • Begin college selection process.  Attend college fairs, financial aid seminars, general information sessions etc., to learn as much as you can about the college application process.


    • Junior year grades are extremely important in the college admission process, because they are a measure of how well you do in advanced, upper-level courses.  Grades are also used to determine scholarships and grants for which you may be eligible.  So put in the extra effort and keep those grades up!


    • Begin to make a preliminary list of colleges you would like to investigate further.  Surf the Internet and use the college resources in the guidance office or library.


    • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss your preliminary list of colleges.  Discuss whether your initial list of colleges meets your needs and interests and whether you are considering colleges where you are likely to be admitted.  You should be optimistic and realistic when applying to colleges.


    • Request admission literature and financial aid information from the colleges on your list and continue to gather as much information as possible about the colleges you are interested in attending.  Remove the colleges that no longer make your cut and add them as deemed appropriate.


    • After school is out, get on the road to visit colleges and take tours.  
    • Begin preparing for the actual application process: draft application essays, collect writing samples, and assemble portfolios.   

    Senior Year

    • Apply to colleges. Make decisions. Finish high school with pride in yourself and your accomplishments.


    • Make sure you have all the applications required for college admission and financial aid. Write, phone, or use the internet to request missing information.
    • Check on application and financial aid deadlines for the schools to which you plan to apply. They may vary and it is essential to meet all deadlines!
    • Meet with your guidance counselor to be sure your list includes colleges appropriate to your academic and personal record. Review your transcript and co-curricular records with your school counselor to ensure their accuracy. 
    • If the colleges require recommendations, ask the appropriate people to write on your behalf. At least three weeks before the due date, ask your counselor and teachers, employers, or coaches to write letters of recommendation. Provide recommendation forms, any special instructions and a stamped, addressed business envelope to the people writing your recommendation. Be thoughtful! Write thank-you notes to those who write recommendations and keep them informed of your decisions. 
    • Study hard and ensure that your first quarter grades are good. 


    • Attend a regional college fair to investigate further those colleges to which you will probably apply. 
    • Mail applications in time to reach the colleges by their specific deadlines. Check with your guidance counselor to make sure your transcript and test scores have been/will be sent to the colleges to which you are applying. 
    • Prepare applications for back-up schools. If applying for early decision or early action, send in your application now and remember if you are accepted under the early decision option, you are expected to enroll at that college and to withdraw all other applications. 


    • Continue completing applications to colleges. Make copies of all applications before mailing.
    • If you need financial aid obtain a FAFSA worksheet (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Check to see if the colleges to which you are applying require any other financial aid forms 
    • Start researching scholarship opportunities and pay attention to those deadlines. You may be eligible for more scholarships than you think, so apply for as many as you can.


    • Have official test scores sent to colleges on your list if you have not done so.
    • Keep working hard in your classes! Grades and courses continue to count throughout the senior year.
    • Request that your counselor send the transcript of your first semester grades to the colleges to which you applied. 
    • In January, parents and students need to complete their income tax form as soon as possible. You will need those figures to fill out the FAFSA. Complete and submit your FAFSA as quickly as possible after January 1. 


    • Monitor your applications to be sure that all materials are sent and received on time and that they are complete. Stay on top of things and don’t procrastinate.
    • If you completed a FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within four weeks after submitting the FAFSA. Review your SAR carefully and check for any inaccuracies. If necessary, correct any items on the SAR and return it to the FAFSA processor.


    • Review your college acceptances and financial aid awards. Be sure to compare financial aid packages in your decision-making process. If you are positive you will not be attending one or more of the colleges which accepted you, please notify those colleges that you have selected another college. If you know which college you will attend, send your tuition deposit and follow all other instructions for admitted students. You must decide which offer of admission to accept by May 1. 
    • Do not taking rolling admission applications for granted. (Some colleges do not have application deadlines; they admit students on a continuous basis.) These schools may reach their maximum class size quickly, the earlier you apply, the more availability there may be. 


    • BE PROUD – you have completed a difficult task!