College Planning Guide for High School Students
College Planning for Parents of High School Students
Freshman Year (9th Grade)
- Meet with your parents/guardian and high school guidance counselor.
- Make an academic plan that incorporates prerequisites, as well as electives and extracurricular activities.
- Look into college savings plans.
- Be sure to keep your grades up.
- Begin researching potential schools.
- Start looking into different possible career paths.
- Start a list of your credentials, extracurricular activities, electives, and interests.
- Spend your summer productively: get a job, volunteer locally, or look into academic/professional education programs.
Sophomore Year (10th Grade)
- Take the PSAT to help prepare you to take the SAT, your junior year.
- Learn about the college admissions process and meet with your guidance counselor again, to ensure you’re on the right track.
- Develop your interests outside of class, including extracurricular activities, clubs, and volunteering.
- Work on your reading and writing skills while paying attention to current events.
- Begin researching colleges of interest and reach out to their admissions offices.
- Get a job to develop your resume and earn funds for college applications.
Junior Year (11th Grade)
- Take the PSAT again, if desired, to prepare for the SAT, and make a plan of when/if to take other tests (SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests).
- Make a list of prospective colleges to research and apply to, and be sure you’re meeting their academic and application requirements.
- Organize your college application materials and begin to evaluate and narrow down the schools on your list according to your most important criteria.
- Research the financial aid resources provided by your prospective colleges.
- Make arrangements to take the SAT during your spring semester; you may retake it the fall semester of senior year.
- Begin looking for scholarships that match up with your skills, interests, and financial situation.
- Contact mentors (teachers, coaches, activity leaders) about letters of recommendation and begin working on your personal essay.
- Make appointments to visit colleges of interest over the next year.
Senior Year (12th Grade)
- Finish evaluating schools and finalize your list of prospective colleges.
- Retake the SAT (if necessary) and take subject tests or the ACT, if desired. Be sure to request that the scores be sent to your chosen schools.
- Finalize your applications, including letters of recommendation, and keep track of all college application deadlines. Submit all application materials in time!
- Apply for scholarships and submit FAFSA financial aid forms and necessary paperwork.
- Check with colleges to make sure they received all application materials, and follow up with early decision schools, if applicable.
- Evaluate financial aid offers and packages and follow up on FAFSA acknowledgement paperwork.
- Make your final decision and notify any colleges you decided against. Submit all enrollment paperwork for your college of choice.
- Congratulations, you’re done with the college application process!