High School Timeline
By College Toolkit
Each Year | Freshman |
Sophomore | Junior | Senior
Things to Do Each Year
Meet with Your School Counselor
Each year, you should discuss the classes you plan on taking with your school
counselor. Also, let them know what your goals are for college. They can help
you stay on track and uncover scholarship and college opportunities along the
Summer Job/Internship/Volunteer Work
Take advantage of the time available each summer to find rewarding job,
internship, or volunteer experience. Start looking for these opportunities
early in the spring semester because the earlier you start your search, the
more likely you are to find a better opportunity.
Get to Know Teachers / School Counselors / Coaches / Advisors
Don’t forget you are going to need recommendations for all those scholarship
and college applications you send out. The best way to get good recommendations
is to build strong relationships with a few teachers, school counselors,
coaches, or advisors.
Plan High School Schedule
Make a plan of the courses you would like to take during high school. Many
states and colleges require 3-4 years of math and English and 2 or more years
of history, science and a foreign language.
Get Involved in Clubs and Activities
Research the clubs and activities available in your school and community.
Participate in the ones which interest you the most and not just the ones you
think will look good on a college or scholarship application.
Start Gathering College and Scholarship Information
It is never too early to find out about colleges that interest you. Take
advantage of college fairs and presentations at your school. Also, this is a
good time to begin your search for scholarship information. Start a file and
save college and scholarship brochures that you receive. This can really help
reduce your stress level when you are applying for colleges and scholarships
during your junior and senior years.
Prepare for and Take for the PLAN Test (Fall Semester)
Many students who will be taking the
ACT Assessment Test choose to take the PLAN "pre-ACT" test in the fall
of their sophomore year. This can be a great opportunity to get acclimated with
the format of the ACT and
to practice your test-taking skills.
Prepare for and Take the PSAT/NMSQT (Fall Semester)
Many students who will be taking the
SAT choose to take the
PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of their junior year. PSAT scores are used to
qualify students as National Merit semifinalists and finalists, which may make
them eligible to receive merit-based scholarships from private foundations or
their university or college.
Prepare for and Take the SAT or ACT (Spring Semester)
If you are planning to apply Early
Decision or Early Action to colleges, you should consider taking the
SAT or ACT in the
spring semester of your junior year. It is also advisable to take the test
during your junior year if you plan on applying for scholarships during your
junior year or early in your senior year. You should check with the admissions
offices of the colleges you are considering for more information regarding test
scores for Early Action and Early
Start College Application Process (Spring Semester)
The spring semester of your junior year and the following summer are a great
time to get started on the college application process. Request applications
and information from colleges you are interested in online or by writing to
their admissions offices. You may also want to start working on your college
Prepare for and Take the SAT or ACT (Fall Semester)
If you didn’t take the SAT or
ACT in your junior year or
would like to take it again to improve your score, the fall semester of your
senior year is the time to do so.
Request Recommendations for Applications (Fall Semester)
Remember, you are not the only one who has work to do for your applications.
You need to give school counselors, teachers, coaches, and others enough time
to complete recommendations and to send transcripts to your desired schools.
Complete College Applications (Fall Semester)
Give yourself sufficient time to complete your college applications. It is a
good idea to factor in some time to have parents and teachers read over your
essays. They can offer valuable suggestions on content as well as help you
check for typos and grammatical errors.
Keep in mind that deadlines for Early
Action and Early Decision programs typically fall in November, while
deadlines for regular admissions usually fall some time in mid-to-late December
or early January.
Complete Scholarship Applications (Fall Semester)
As with college applications, give yourself plenty of time to do your best
work. Scholarships and grants can be a great way to help you finance your
education. Don’t put them off to the last second.
Fill Out the FAFSA (Spring Semester)
Complete the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. This form is used
to determine your eligibility not only for
federal aid programs
but also for many state, private, and school-sponsored financial aid and
Applications become available January 1 for the following school year. Although
the federal deadline is June 30, it is important to check the deadlines of
other programs that require the
FAFSA. They often fall well before this federal deadline.