Countdown to College
In 7th & 8th Grade:
- Begin thinking about the high school classes that will prepare you for college. Take the most difficult classes you can handle.
- Ask your parents or teachers to help you develop good study habits.
- Practice setting and reaching goals.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Take interest and skills assessments to help you think about possible career options.
- Talk with your school counselor and parents about careers that interest you.
- Create a tentative high school class plan.
- Enroll in a summer enrichment program.
In 9th & 10th Grade:
- Sharpen your organizational skills by developing a system to keep track of assignments, tests, events, appointments, and other things. These skills are key to succeeding in college.
- Talk with your school counselor about career options and the education required for those careers.
- Spend time volunteering and get involved with clubs that develop leadership skills.
- Review your high school class plan. Take the most difficult classes you can handle. Stay focused on your schoolwork.
- Keep a log of your activities, awards, and accomplishments. You’ll want to have this information in one place when it’s time to start filling out college applications.
- Start talking with your parents about financing your college tuition and create a financial plan together. Also, start researching what scholarships and grants are out there that are realistic for you.
- In 10th grade, register for the PLAN, a pre-ACT test, which will help identify areas for improvement.
In 11th Grade:
- Attend college and financial aid events.
- Mentor others and have a mentor for yourself.
- In October, take the PSAT/NMSQT. This is good practice and could help lead to scholarships.
- Consider possible career options and investigate the type of education that is needed.
- Request materials from schools that interest you and visit their websites.
- Arrange campus visits to those schools that interest you.
- Participate in extracurricular activities.
- Request admissions and financial aid forms.
- Sign up for classes that will earn college credit during your senior year through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Postsecondary Enrollment Options or College in the Schools.
- Find out which tests the universities you’re interested in require, and then in the spring semester take the SAT, ACT with the writing component, or both.
- Keep looking for scholarships and grants for which you may qualify.
- Review your high school class plan. Take the most difficult classes you can handle. Stay focused on your schoolwork. Make sure you are meeting your high school graduation requirements.
- Enroll in a summer enrichment program.
- Get a job to earn and save money for college, or explore your skills through an internship or apprenticeship.
- Research private scholarship options.
In 12th Grade:
September – November
- Arrange campus visits to those schools that interest you. It’s okay to go more than once.
- Take or retake the ACT and/or SAT in the fall.
- Meet with your school counselor to review your high school class plan.
- Select the schools to which you will apply. Make a list of deadlines for each school.
- Create a resume of your academic, athletic and work activities as well as other achievements. Prepare a portfolio if you’re interested in the arts.
- Ask for recommendations (if required) from teachers, counselors and others who can comment on your abilities and talents.
- Attend a financial aid event. Review a copy of Paying for College.
- Check if there is still time to sign up for spring classes that will earn college credit through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Postsecondary Enrollment Options or College in the Schools.
December – February
- Apply to four or more colleges that interest you. Some may have earlier or later deadlines. (Make copies of each application.)
- Attend a financial aid event if you haven’t already done so. Review a copy of Paying for College.
- Apply for scholarships offered by the colleges to which you have applied.
- Apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1. You and your parents will need the previous year’s income tax information to complete the application.
- Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) for accuracy.
March – May
- Have your final high school transcript sent to the colleges to which you’ve applied.
- Choose a college and notify in writing those you don’t plan to attend.
- Send in any required forms or deposits.
- Get a job to earn money for college.
- Review orientation materials from the college you selected.
- If living on campus, check with the college for a list of what’s provided by the school and what the school expects the student to provide.
- Contact your roommate.