College Planning



College Planning Timeline*

9th Grade:


  •  Meet your Guidance Counselor

Your counselor is ready and willing to help you make sense of your college and career options. Set up a meeting to talk about your plans for high school and the future. 

  •  Get involved

Extracurricular activities are an important part of high school. Make an effort to get involved with groups, clubs, or teams that interest you. 

  •  Pick the right mix of classes

Make sure you enroll in the appropriate college-prep classes and that you’re taking key core requirements. Challenge yourself by taking rigorous or advanced courses, if possible. 

  •  Explore your interests and possible careers

Use Naviance as a research tool for college and career. Discuss your skills and interests with your guidance counselor. Create SMART Goals for yourself on 

  •  Build your credentials

Keep track of academic and extracurricular awards, community service achievements, and anything else you participate in, so it will be easier to remember later. Think about volunteering, getting a job, or signing up for an enrichment program over the summer.


10th Grade:


  •  Take a practice PSAT

Taking the PSAT as a sophomore will help you prepare for the real thing next year. It also allows you to release your name to the colleges so you can start receiving information from them. 

  •  Stay on track with your courses and keep your grades up

Work with your guidance counselor to make sure you’re enrolled in the courses you need to prepare you for college or a career.  Remember that your grades affect your GPA and class rank, two factors that colleges consider in the admissions process. Stay focused on doing well in your classes. 

  •  Begin learning about the college admissions process

Explore Naviance and get familiar with general college entrance requirements. 

  •  Take on new roles

Stay involved in your extracurricular activities and work toward leadership positions in the activities you like best. Get involved in community service. 

  •  Start exploring colleges majors and careers

Complete the Career Interest Inventory on Naviance.


11th Grade:


  •  Stay on track with your classes and grades

Meet with your guidance counselor to see what courses you still need to take. Check on your transcript and GPA. Even if your grades haven’t been that good so far, it’s never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend. 

  •  Take the PSAT

Taking the PSAT is a good way to practice for the SAT. It may also qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship program. 

  •  Prepare for standardized tests

Find out if the colleges you are interested in require the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests. Register to take the tests you need. Most juniors take them in the spring of junior year, and then again in the fall of senior year. 

  •  Continue researching colleges or other post-secondary options and careers

Complete the Game Plan Survey on Naviance. 

  •  Begin narrowing down your college choices and organizing your college information

Make sure you have all the information you need about the colleges you’re interested in. Then begin comparing the schools by the factors that are most important to you and rank your choices. 

  •  Stay involved in extracurricular activities

Colleges look for consistency and depth in the non-academic activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles and demonstrating commitment are important. 

  •  Prepare a challenging schedule for senior year

Meet with your counselor to determine what classes you’ll take next year and to make sure you’re on track for graduation. Colleges consider your senior year courses and grades, so stick with a schedule that challenges you. 

  •  Contact your recommendation writers

Consider which teachers and/or guidance counselor you’d like to ask to write you a letter of recommendation. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say about you. 

  •  Visit colleges and attend open houses and college fairs

Many colleges have open houses in the spring. Take a tour and speak with the admissions and financial aid staff. 

  •  Start working on your college application essays

Research the essay topics for the colleges you will be applying to, and compose rough drafts of the essays you will need. 


12th Grade:


  •  Continue to visit colleges and finalize your college list

Use the information you’ve gathered to decide which schools you will apply to. Think about choosing reach, target, and safety schools. 

  •  Stay on track with your grades and extracurricular activities

Colleges will look at what you have done in your senior year, so stay focused on doing well in your classes and maintaining a commitment to extracurricular activities. 

  •  Take standardized tests

Register for and take the ACT, SAT, or SAT Subject Tests as necessary. Be sure you request that your test scores be sent to the colleges of your choice by the testing agency. 

  •  Ask for letters of recommendation

Ask up to two teachers in person to write you a letter of recommendation. Send an official request to your teachers through Naviance. 

  •  Search for scholarships

There are lots of scholarships out there; you just need to spend a little bit of time and effort to find them. Use online scholarship search tools and Naviance to find scholarship options. 

  •  Complete applications

Finish your college applications. Be mindful of deadline dates. You should plan to submit everything before winter break. 

  •  Submit financial aid forms

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the application for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), the CSS Profile (if necessary), as well as any other financial forms the colleges you are applying to require. 

  •  Watch your email and mail for decision notifications from colleges

If you applied under the regular application process, you should receive an admissions decision by March or April. 

  •  Compare financial aid packages

Make sure to consider each financial aid award carefully. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the financial aid office at the college to get more information. 

  •  Make your final college decision

Notify the college of your intent to enroll by May 1st.





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