Planning for Life After High School


Talk to your school counselor about the following:

  • Attending a four-year college or university
  • Establishing your college preparatory classes; your schedule should consist of at least 4 college preparatory classes per year, including:

    • 4 years of English
    • 3 years of math (through Algebra 11 or trigonometry)
    • 2 years of foreign language
    • 2 years of natural science
    • 2 years of history/social studies
    • 1 year of art
    • 1 year of electives from the above list
  • Enrolling in algebra or geometry classes and a foreign language for both semesters (most colleges have math and foreign language requirements)

Remember, you will have more options if you start planning now for college and keep your grades up.

  • Create a file of the following documents and notes;

    • Copies of report cards
    • List of awards and honors
    • List of school and community activities in which you are involved, including both paid and volunteer work, and descriptions of what you do

Start thinking about the colleges you want to attend. Once you have narrowed down the list of colleges and universities in which you are interested, start touring the campuses.


  • Talk to your school counselor about the following:
    • Reviewing the high school curriculum needed to satisfy the requirements of the colleges you are interested in attending.
    • Finding out about AP courses: What courses are available?
    • Whether or not you are eligible for the classes that you want to take.
    • How to enroll in them for your junior year.
  • Update your file, or start one if you haven't already. (See Grade 9 for a list of what it should contain.)
  • Continue extracurricular activities, as admissions officers look at students' extracurricular activities when considering them for admission.
  • Continue participation in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music,
    arts science, etc.
  • Take the PSAT in October. The scores will not count for National Merit Scholar consideration in your sophomore year, but it is Valuable practice for when you take the PSAT again in your junior year (when the scores will count), as well as for the SAT l exam which you should also be taking in your junior year. You will receive your PSAT results in December.
  • Register, in April, for the SAT II for any subjects you will be completing before June.
  • Take the SAT II in June.
  • Take ACT/PLAN. (Scores do not count for college entrance but indicates possible scores for upcoming ACT and shows pathways and skill development plan to improve scores for junior/senior ACT.)


  • Maintaining your grades during your junior year is especially important. You should be doing at least 2 hours of homework each night and participating in study groups. Using a computer can be a great tool for organizing your activities and achieving the grades you want.
  • Talk to your guidance counselor (or teachers, if you don't have access to a guidance councilor) about the following:
    • Availability of and enrollment in AP classes
    • Schedules for the PSAT, SAT I and II, ACT and AP exams.
    • Discuss why you should take these exams and how they could benefit you.
    • Determine which exams you will take. (You could always change your mind.)
    • Sign up and prepare for the exams you've decided to take.
    • Ask for a preview of your academic record and profile, determine what gaps or weaknesses there are, and get suggestions on how to strengthen your candidacy for the schools in which you are interested.
    • Determine what it takes to gain admission to the college(s) of your choice, in addition to GPA and test score requirements.
  • Obtain Schedules and forms for the SAT I and II, ACT and AP Exams.


  • Register for the PSAT exam offered in October. Remember that when you take the PSAT in your junior year, the scores will count towards the National Achievement Program (and it is good practice for the SAT I).


  • Take the PSAT. Narrow your list of colleges to include a few colleges with requirements at your current GPA , a few with requirements above your current GPA, and at least one with requirements below your GPA. Your list should contain approximately 8-12 schools you are seriously considering. ( Use the Choices Post-secondary Schools database for more information on the schools in which you're interested) Start researching your financial aid options as well.
  • Begin scheduling interviews with admissions counselors. If possible, schedule tours of the school grounds on the same days. You and your parent(s) may want to visit the colleges and universities during the spring break and summer vacation, so that you do not have to miss school. Some high schools consider a campus visit an excused absence, however, so if need be, you may be able to schedule interviews and visits during the school year without any incurring any penalties.


  • Review your PSAT results with your counselor in order to identify your strengths and to determine the areas that you may need to improve upon


  • You will receive your scores from the October PSAT. Depending on the results, you may want to consider signing up for an SAT preparatory course. Many high schools offer short-term preparatory classes or seminars on the various exams, which tell the students what to expect and can actually help boost their scores.


  • Tour campuses to further narrow your list of colleges to match your personality, GPA, and test scores.


  • Register for the March SAT and/or the April ACT tests. Find out from each college the deadlines for applying for admission and which tests to take. Make sure you give your test dates to colleges.


  • Take the March SAT I.
  • If you are interested in taking any AP exams(s), you should sign up for the exam(s) at this time. If your school does not offer the AP exams, check with your guidance counselor to determine schools in the area that do administer the exam(s), as well as the dates and times that the exam(s) you are taking will be offered. Scoring well on the AP exam(s) can sometimes earn you a college credit.


  • Take the April ACT test.


  • Take AP, SAT I and SAT II exams.
  • Talk to teachers about writing letters of recommendation for you. Think about what you would like included in these letters (how you would like to be presented) and politely ask your teachers if they can accommodate you.


  • Add any new report cards, test scores, honors, or awards to your file. Visit colleges. Call ahead for appointments with the financial aid, admissions and academic advisors at the college(s) in which you are most interested. During your visits, talk to professors, sit in on classes, spend a night in the dorms, and speak to students about the college(s). Doing these things will allow you to gather the most important information about the college and atmosphere in which you would be living, should you chose to attend. Some colleges have preview programs that allow you to do all of these; find out which of the schools you will be visiting offer these programs and take advantage of them.
  • Take the SAT I, SAT II and the ACT tests.
  • If you go on interviews or visits, don't forget to send thank you notes.

Summer Between Junior and Senior Years:

  • Practice writing online applications, filling out rough drafts of each application, without submitting them. Focus on the essay portions of these applications, deciding how you would like to present yourself. Don't forget to mention your activities out of school.
  • Review your applications, especially the essays. Ask family, friends, and teachers to review your essays for grammar, punctuation, readability, and content.
  • Decide if you are going to apply under a particular college's early decision or early action programs. This requires you to submit your applications early, typically between October and December of your senior year, but offers the benefit of receiving the college's decision concerning your admission early, usually before January 1. If you choose to apply early, you should do so for the college/university that is your first choice in schools to attend. Many early decision programs are legally binding, requiring you to attend the college you are applying to, should they accept you.


  • Check your transcript to make sure that you have all the credits you need to get into your college(s) of your choice.
  • Register for October/November SAT I, SAT II and ACT tests
  • Take another look at your list of colleges, and make sure that they still satisfy your requirements. Add and/or remove colleges as necessary
  • Make Sure you meet the requirements (including any transcript requirements) for all the colleges to which you want to apply. Double-check the deadlines, and apply.
  • Give any recommendation forms to the appropriate teachers or counselors with stamped college addressed envelopes, making certain that your portion of the forms are filled out completely and accurately.
  • Most early decision and early action applications are due October 1 and November 1.


  • Make a final list of schools and keep a file of deadlines and required admission items for each school.
  • Take SAT and/or ACT tests. Have official scores sent by the testing agency to the colleges/universities that have made your final list.
  • Register for December or January SAT I or SAT II tests, if necessary.
  • Begin writing any essays to be included with your applications.


  • Submit you college admission applications.


  • Early decision replies usually arrive between December 1st and December 31st.
  • If you haven't already done so, make sure your official test scores are being sent to the colleges to which you are applying.
  • Schedule any remaining required interviews.


  • Complete and submit your college financial aid application and the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) between January 1 and February 15, and check for other financial aid options. In order to be considered for financial aid, you will need to submit these forms even if you have not been notified of your acceptance to the college(s) to which you applied.
  • Go to the FAFSA on the Web form at .
  • Investigate purchasing a computer for college. You or your parents can subsidize the cost of a computer for college in your student loans.
  • Request that your high school sends you official transcripts to the colleges to which you are applying.
  • Contact the admissions office of the college(s) to which you have applied to make sure that your information has been received, and that they have everything they need from you.


  • If you completed the FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within four weeks. Make the necessary corrections and return it to the FAFSA processor.
    complete your scholarship applications.
  • Contact the financial aid office of the college(s) to which you have applied to make sure that your information has been received, and that they have everything they need from you.


  • You will probably hear from the colleges as to whether or not you are accepted by April 15.
  • Compare your acceptance letters, financial aid and scholarship offers.
  • When you choose a college that has accepted you, you will be required to pay a nonrefundable deposit for freshman tuition
    (this should ensure your place in the entering freshman class).


  • Take AP exams for any AP subjects you studied in high school.
  • You should make a decision by May 1st as to which college you will be attending and notify the school by mailing your commitment deposit check. Many schools require that your notification letter be postmarked by this date.
  • If you were placed on a waiting list for a particular college, and have decided to wait for an opening, contact that college
    and let them know you are still very interested.


  • Have your school send your final transcripts to the college which you will be attending
  • Contact your college to determine when fees for tuition, room and board are due and how much they will be.

Summer After your Senior Year:

  • Participate in any summer orientation programs or incoming freshmen.
  • Now that you know you will be attending college in the fall, it is a good idea to get student health insurance in case of any
    unforeseen emergencies.
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