High School Students

High School Freshmen

Choose courses which will help with your college plans.  Plan ahead so that there is time to take all of the math and other classes that college admissions officers want to see. Take as many Advanced Placement classes as possible. Parents, stay involved.

Continue with the extracurricular activities. They’re fun, and they are important to admissions officers at colleges. When possible, take leadership positions.

What are your interests? Find out what’s involved in various occupations. Your guidance office may have a computer program for researching career interests.

Talk to relatives and friends who are in college or went to college. Ask what they were looking for in a school, whether they found it, and what they would look for today.

Seek summer employment or volunteer work in a field that may be related to future career interests. 

Learn about financial aid formulas.

High School Sophomores

Choose the right courses for college admissions and graduation.

Practice for standardized tests by taking the PSAT (the preliminary SAT test) in sophomore year. The PSAT is given in October. Students can also take the SAT subject tests in June and take them again in junior year.

Continue studying and participating in activities. Your freshmen grade counts towards college.   
Work hard on your grades.

Attend college fairs.

Read up on colleges. Look for and order information from the most interesting schools. Make a list of colleges that interest you.

Review your income and assets.  Calculate your EFC.   Remember your base year for financial aid starts in January of sophomore year. College financial aid is calculated on the prior prior tax year

High School Juniors

College financial aid is calculated on the prior prior tax year.

Register for the courses that you need for college. Sign up for advanced classes whenever possible. Take standardized tests at the right time.

Grades for this year are important for college admissions.

Continue with your important extracurricular activities.

Register for the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test). Take it in October. The PSAT practice test in October of junior year prepares students for the SAT.

 SAT I and SAT II (Scholastic Aptitude Tests). Find out test dates and registration dates.

Three SAT II Subject Tests (formerly called "Achievement Tests") are required by many colleges. The SAT II Writing Test is usually one of the three. You may decide to take two subject tests in the spring of junior year and the other during senior year. If the colleges on your list require SAT II tests, choose your subjects early.

The ACT Test (American College Testing assessment test) is an alternative to the SAT. Most students who take it are from the South and the Midwest. If this test is made available to you, check to be sure whether your colleges accept it. Most colleges do.

Seek out and build relationships with the teachers who will write your college recommendations.

Continue collecting information on colleges. Decide which features are most important to you—location, academic quality, size, fields of study, cost, type, etc. 

Register in February for the March SAT I test.

If you are in Advanced Placement courses, take the tests in May. High grades on AP tests can earn you college credit and/or advanced standing.

Look for educational summer employment, internships, or other opportunities. College admission committees will be interested in how you spent your summer.

Start selecting colleges which will maximize your financial aid packages.

Learn about financial aid strategies to increase your grant and scholarship money.

Calculate your EFC and understand how you will finance your education.

High School Seniors

Plan for courses and to schedule tests. Discuss college choices with your parents. Plan for any remaining college visits.

Decide which colleges are most interesting to you. Make a side-by-side list of features to compare them; then decide which features are most important. Narrow the list. Include at least one school you feel confident will admit you and at least one school that would be affordable even if financial aid were low.

Prepare college file for admissions materials and update as necessary.

Make a list of due-dates for admissions.

Look over admissions application forms early. If essays are required, allow time to think about them and do them well.

Find out how many recommendations (and what type) you need. Ask teachers (also guidance counselors and employers, etc.) whether they are willing to write them for you. Provide them with forms, envelopes, and a brief description of your academic record and extracurricular activities.

Register for and take the fall SAT I and/or SAT II tests, whether taking them for the first time or repeating because you think you can improve your score.

Prepare for Financial Aid Forms.

Many private colleges require the CSS Profile and have deadline dates of February 1 and should be completed as soon as possible. Filing of the CSS Profile usually starts October 1.

Many private schools require the CSS Non-Custodian Profile.  If your parents are divorced, find out which of your colleges choices requires this form. 

If your parents own a business you may be required to complete a business/farm supplement.

The FAFSA is required by all colleges and filing begins October 1.  Delays, mistakes, incorrect reporting of financial information will result in lost grant and scholarship money.