College Prep Timeline

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College Prep Timeline

College Planning Timeline
The below timeline serves as a reference resources for students and their families as they plan for college. Questions about how to best utilize the suggestions listed below can be directed to School Counselors Mrs. Jill Gray and Mrs. Nicole Chiles.
Freshman Year

Talk with your School Counselor about how you can make the most out of high school. See this article from Kaplan Test Prep: Top Tips to Make the Most of High School.

Plan challenging high school courses.

Find out why you should go to college.

Become familiar with college entrance requirements.

Take EXPLORE®, a set of four tests that measuer academic achievement. The EXPLORE® test identifies student aptitudes and helps high school administrators develop appropriate individual coursework and career planning programs. EXPLORE® results can be a benchmark before taking the ACT® test.

Review EXPLORE® results with your parents and School Counselor.

Join/continue extracurricular activities.

Attend a summer camp at a college to experience a college-like atmosphere.

Research college costs.

Continue/start saving for college.

Meet with your college/career counselor at least once per year.


Sophomore Year

Continue to take and plan challenging high school courses.

Continue to meet with your college/career counselor at least once per year.

Think about what kind of education and/or training is required for various careers. 

Begin collecting college information and deciding which college(s) you may want to visit.

Visit colleges and talk with college students. Be ready with a list of questions to ask on your campus visit.

Check out this article on what colleges are looking for in applicants. 

Continue/start saving for college.

Consider your reasons for going to college and how they relate to your career interests.

Join/continue participation in extracurricular activities. 

Junior Year

Keep meeting with your college/career counselor at least once per year.

Keep your grades up.

Join an academic club.

Register for the ACT® and/or SAT®. You should be academically ready to test by spring. If not, you must test early in your senior year.

Continue to take and plan challenging courses.

Talk with your family and School Counselor about colleges that interest you. 

Prepare a list of questions to ask on college campus visits.  

Continue to visit colleges and talk with college students and Admissions personnel. 

List, compare, and visit colleges.

Start/update your academic resume. Consider also putting together a portfolio of work that highlights your special skills and talents (for example: artwork, writing, photography, athletic accomplisments, volunteer work).

Investigate scholarship opportunities.

Volunteer for activities, clubs, and service opportunities related to your career interests.

Get a part-time job, apprenticeship, internship, or job shadow in a profession that interests you.  


Senior Year

Senior year is finally here, and it's full of things to do to get ready for college! Use this senior year checklist to keep track of your progress and upcoming deadlines for testing, admissions and financial aid.


Sign up for the ACT® and/or SAT® if you did not test as a junior or if you aren't satisfied with your score(s), or if you've learned a lot since you first tested.

Review your ACT® and/or SAT® test results and retest if necessary. 

August – December

Visit with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements.

Consider taking courses at a local university or community college.

Keep working hard all year; second semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility!

Ask for personal references from teachers, school counselors, or employers early in the year or at least two weeks before application deadlines. Follow your school's procedure for requesting recommendations.

Visit with admissions counselors who come to visit your high school.

Attend a college fair.

Begin your college essay(s).

Apply for admission at the colleges you've chosen.

Find out if you qualify for scholarships at each college you have applied to.

Start the financial aid application process. Start here.

See your School Counselor for help finding financial aid and scholarships.

January – May

If you need it, get help completing the FAFSA.

In January, ask your high school guidance office to send first semester transcripts to colleges/universitites to which you've applied. In May, they will need to send final transcripts to the college/university you will attend.

Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll. 

Decide which college to attend and notify the school of your decision.

Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork to your selected college.

Continue to seek out scholarship opportunities.

Keep track of important financial aid and scholarship deadlines.

Watch the mail for your Student Aid Report (SAR) - it should arrive four weeks after your FAFSA is filed.

Compare financial aid packages from different schools.

Sign and send in promissory note if you are borrowing money.

Notify your college about an outside scholarships you may have received. 

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