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A College Timeline

It Pays to Plan Ahead!


The reality of college planning is this: some students start early and some start in their senior year. That is fine, as long as the actions match the goals. The best advice for high school students is to think realistically about the type of college you want to attend and plan accordingly.

You can't really expect to get in to a highly competitive college if you start too late.


As a freshman, you should start educating yourself about the process of applying to colleges, and then enter a high school diploma program plan that fits your goals.

  • Consider your extracurricular activities carefully.
  • Decide what clubs you could really enjoy the most and benefit from in the future.
  • Start working on a college reading list.

More Tips for Freshmen


As a sophomore, you'll want to become a little more serious about extracurriculars.

  • If you are involved in a club, you should start seeking leadership roles.
  • Consider taking challenging academic courses and visit your counselor to discuss them.
  • Sign up for the PSAT in October.
  • Go to a college fair and start to learn about different colleges.
  • Consider taking AP courses.


As a junior, you will start working on a serious college search list.

  • Learn about college majors.
  • Study and prepare for the PSAT.
  • Prepare for AP exams.
  • If you haven't already, consider taking part in volunteer work.
  • Learn all you can about the financial aid process and the FAFSA.
  • Some students will take the SAT to prepare for early admission.

If you are planning to apply to a smaller, local college, you should start preparing in your junior year by visiting the campus. Also ask to sit in on an actual class. You should also start thinking about your degree program and learn about the financial aid process.

College Fair Advice for Juniors


Seniors are almost there! Narrow your college list to 5 or so and visit the campuses.

  • Take the SAT early. You will have time to try again for applications that are due later.
  • Submit your FAFSA as soon as your parents complete their tax forms. Parents of seniors should know that they might need to do taxes a little earlier than normal.
  • Research scholarship opportunities. Talk to college recruiters and, if you want, ask them about application fee waivers.
  • Request letters of recommendation.
  • Continue college reading list.
  • Work on essays.
  • Tackle the applications.
Seniors who plan to attend a local college or technical school should also ask about scholarship opportunities and fee waivers, if they want to do so.
  • Complete the application and the FAFSA on a timely basis.
  • Visit the campus and sit in on a class.
  • Walk the campus to become familiar with the classrooms.
  • Go to the bookstore and become familiar with textbook costs and the purchasing process.
  • Explore majors.

    All seniors should plan to attend a summer orientation at your college of choice. You will sign up for your classes, meet your class mates, meet your roommates, learn about food plans, tie up financial aid issues, see your classrooms, and have a great time!

    More Tips for Seniors

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