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High School Timeline

College Process Timeline

Freshman Year

  • get to know your school counselor
  • get involved in school activities: do what you enjoy!
  • get involved in community activities and service
  • earn the best grades you can
  • take the most challenging (but appropriate) courses you can
  • read, even when not assigned for school, on a regular basis
  • depending on your courses, you might take an SAT II: Subject Test at the end of the year; talk with your counselor
  • if your family travels over spring break or during the summer, and if you pass near a college campus, stop and take the tour
  • in addition to enjoying your time off, plan to do something constructive with your summer vacation

Sophomore Year

  • stay in touch with your school counselor
  • if your school offers it, take the PSAT or PLAN in the fall
  • remain involved in school and community activities: follow your passions!
  • earn the best grades you can
  • continue to take the most challenging courses you can
  • continue to read for pleasure
  • depending on the courses you take this year, it is even more likely that you would consider an SAT II: Subject Test at the end of the school year; talk with your counselor
  • in the spring, look at the list of senior college acceptances: who do you know and where is he/she going?
  • continue to take advantage of college visits if your family is near a college-- just to get a feel for the different types of colleges there are
  • use your free time in the summer productively, while also enjoying your time off

Junior Year

  • this is the most important year academically: do your best, challenge yourself appropriately
  • continue to remain involved in activities; try to move into positions of responsibility or leadership
  • take the PSAT and/or PLAN in the fall
  • following your school's guidelines for meeting with your counselor to start the college process; in many schools, the process begins in the late fall or after the holiday break
  • in the winter, think of how you will prepare for your first SAT and/or ACT
  • when you select your courses for senior year, get advice and choose wisely
  • with your counselor, develop an initial list of colleges during the spring
  • try to make some preliminary visits to colleges during spring break
  • take advantage of college representative visits to your school and evening programs in your community
  • research colleges, collect information
  • use your summer vacation time productively; visit colleges during the summer

Senior Year

  • don't forget how important your grades continue to be: the first semester/ trimester is critical
  • remain in close contact with your counselor
  • remain involved in activities which you enjoy, assume leadership positions and more responsibility
  • continue to add or subtract colleges from your list as you learn about schools, make visits, etc.
  • be attentive to in-school deadlines and procedures established by your guidance or college counseling office
  • meet with college representatives who visit your school in the fall; attend evening programs in your community which are hosted by colleges in which you are interested
  • when you are able, continue to visit colleges in which you are interested when you have time off from school during the fall
  • if you are applying early, be aware that application deadlines are just a few weeks after school begins
  • make arrangements with teachers and others for recommendations; follow your school's procedures
  • by Thanksgiving time, your list of colleges should be final: six to eight schools is a good number for most students looking at selective colleges; get advice from your counselor
  • before the holiday break, be attentive to early deadlines and/ or preferred or recommended application deadlines for state universities, honors programs, rolling admission schools, and scholarship programs
  • give yourself plenty of time to work on applications, especially essays
  • know what financial aid forms you must submit, and submit them in a timely fashion
  • take advantage of interviews when given the opportunity
  • after your applications are completed, continue to work hard: senior slump can have disastrous consequences
  • as you receive decisions, inform your counselor, teachers, and others who helped you; thank them
  • in April, consider participating in the open house/ accepted student programs hosted by colleges
  • have your one deposit at the school you will attend by May 1
  • if you are on a waiting list, get advice from your counselor
  • enjoy senior year sensibly and responsibly!