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freshman year timeline

Going off to college may seem like a long time from now, but it's not too early to make choices that will make the transition from high school to college easier. What classes you take, and how you perform in them, as well as what you do with your time when you are not in class are all decisions that may affect your college admissions. It's just as easy to make the right decisions now as it is to make wrong ones. Here are some suggestions for how to do that.

september

Academics
Freshman year is the perfect time to establish yourself as a good student. Take rigorous courses, and get good grades, but also maintain a balance between work and play. Good academics is the foundation of a college admissions plan.

Make sure that your high school courses are the ones that colleges require. Remember, the courses you take as a freshman set the stage for course selection for the rest of high school and even college.

Work with your school counselor to make sure that you are taking college prep courses that ensure your eligibility for the colleges you might want to attend.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Freshman year is also when the choosing of extracurricular activities usually gets started. Talk with your high school counselor about what your interests and talents are and how they fit different activities in and outside of school. Enjoy yourself: taste and explore a number of interests and activities.

Keep a record of absolutely everything you do, including activities, one-day or weekend conferences or sports events, summer programs, jobs (including babysitting), independent lessons or projects, volunteer experiences, honors and awards. You will need to recall these things for your applications.

 

Testing
For the moment, don't worry about testing. But what you can do is read, read, read, and also build your vocabulary. Both of the latter will help you do well on the verbal parts of the SAT and ACT.

 

october

Academics
No matter if you are a very good, decent or poor student, if any class seems to give you trouble, immediately ask for help from the teacher and consider getting a tutor when you need it.

 

College Visits
Some freshman are interested in looking at colleges. Many others are not. If you live near a college or pass by some as you go on family vacations, just driving through different campuses can begin to give you a sense for what different colleges look and feel like.

 

november

Counselors and Teachers
Develop good relationships with your counselor and teachers. Not only will this help you with college admissions, but it will make your high school experience more enjoyable.

 

december

Classes and Grades
Some schools have finals before Christmas. If your school does, try to ace your first finals. Nothing will do more to set you up with the reputation as a good student at your school (and with teachers) than a first semester of good grades.

 

january

Extracurricular Activities
Take stock of how you are spending your time in and out of school. Is there anything you want to add or eliminate from your schedule? Make sure that everything you do is either something you enjoy or "counts" academically.

 

february

Classes and Grades
Stay on top of your classes. Aim for the best grades you can get in your first year of high school.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Begin thinking about what you want to do this coming summer. Colleges are about as interested in what you do outside of school and with your summers as they are in your academics. Make sure you choose something you really enjoy.

 

april

Classes and Grades
Carefully choose sophomore year classes, taking into consideration the rigor of the program and balance in your life.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Finalize your summer plans.

 

june july august

Classes and Grades
Ace your Finals.

 

College Visits
While on vacations, swing by any colleges that are nearby to have a look at what different colleges are like.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Make sure that you do something fun, interesting, or important with your summer.

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sophomore year timeline

Sophomore year is the time to get serious about academics and extracurricular activities. If your freshman year was not what you hoped it would be, don't worry. You can get a fresh start as a sophomore. Colleges appreciate students who are able to make a comeback as a student after a not-so-stellar first year. If you did well freshman year, good for you! You've set yourself up for an even better sophomore year.

september

Academics
Work with your school counselor to make sure that you are taking college prep courses that ensure your eligibility for colleges you might want to attend. 10th grade is a good time to 'up' the number of challenging courses you take, as sophomore year is when many good students take their first AP class.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Sophomore year is also a good time to focus your activities on three or four areas that you really enjoy. If your school doesn't offer what you want, create it or go outside of school to get involved. Even as you develop your interests, keep exploring interesting possibilities as they come up.

Keep a record of absolutely everything you do, including activities, one-day or weekend conferences or sports events, summer programs, jobs (including babysitting), independent lessons or projects, volunteer experiences, honors and awards. You will need to recall these things for the activities sections of your applications.

 

Testing
Read, read, read, and also build your vocabulary. Both of the latter will help you perform better on the verbal parts of the SAT and ACT.

The more familiar you are with admissions tests, the better you will probably do on them. Consider taking the PSAT as a practice test, as well as the ACT practice test, the PLAN.

If languages are your forte, know that all Subject Test Language with Listening tests are only given on the November SAT test date. Consult with your language teacher about whether you are prepared to take a test.

 

october

Academics
No matter if you are a very good, decent or poor student, if any class seems to give you trouble, immediately ask for help from the teacher and/or consider getting a tutor.

 

College Visits
Some sophomores are interested in looking at colleges; some are not. If you live near a college or pass by some as you go on family vacations, just driving through different campuses can give you a sense for what different colleges look and feel like.

 

november

Counselors and Teachers
Develop good relationships with your counselor and teachers. Not only will this help you with college admissions, but it will make your high school experience richer and more enjoyable.

 

Researching Colleges
In a very casual way, begin collecting information about colleges as you read about them in magazines and newspapers.

 

december

Classes and Grades
Some schools have finals before Christmas. If your school does, try to ace your finals.

 

january

Classes and Grades
Be prepared, if not over prepared, for your finals.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Take stock of how you are spending your time in and out of school. Is there anything you want to add or eliminate from your schedule? Make sure that everything you do is either something you enjoy or "counts" academically.

 

february

Classes and Grades
Stay on top of your classes. Aim for the best grades you can get. Nothing is more important to college admissions than good grades.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Begin thinking about what you want to do this coming summer. Colleges are very interested in what you do when you are not in class, especially your summers. Make sure you choose something you really enjoy.

 

Testing
Sign up for any Subject Tests for AP classes in which you are enrolled.

Begin researching and making contact with the best test tutors in town so that you will have a place with one of them next year. The best tutors are often booked months in advance.
Make sure that you are signed up for AP tests that are given at your school in May.

 

april

Classes and Grades
Carefully choose your junior year classes, taking into consideration the rigor of the program and balance in your life.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Finalize your summer plans.

 

Testing
Take the AP test for any AP class in which you are enrolled.

 

june july august

Classes and Grades
Ace your Finals.

Take the Subject Tests for any AP classes that you have just completed.

 

College Visits
While on vacations, swing by any colleges that are nearby just to have a look at what different colleges look like. If you have the interest and the time, walk around the campuses.

 

Extracurricular Activities
Make sure that you do something fun, interesting, or important with your summer.

Spend your summer well by doing what you enjoy, but also make sure that it is something that colleges will take note of when you fill out their applications. Of all things, don't be a couch potato.

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junior year timeline

Of all the years in high school that college admissions people are interested in, junior year is at the top. This is the year when you should take the most Honors, AP/IB classes and get the best grades you can. This is also the year when you should go the extra mile and astound your teachers with the quality of your work. Look for ways to make significant contributions in your activities and sports.

september

Extracurricular Activities
By the time you hit junior year, you should be well settled in favorite extracurricular activities. If you haven't, it is never too late to get involved. Look for ways to make a difference: become an officer, editor, captain, leader, going beyond just being a member of the activity. Colleges want students who are involved in their schools and communities.

 

Classes and Grades
Keep in mind balance in your life, but take as many Honors and AP/IB courses that you can handle. If any course gives you trouble, as soon as you notice, talk with your teacher; get some help.

 

College Visits
Junior year is when to get serious about college visits. Plan family vacations around colleges in which you are interested.

Because a number of colleges ask for a writing sample as a part of their applications, save some of your best English, history, etc. papers from this year.

 

Testing
Make sure that you are signed up for the October PSAT.

 

october

College List
October is a good time to fill out the College Selection to determine your wants, needs and preferences regarding colleges so that you can develop a college list. You can also go online to do a college search.

After you have identified something about what you want in a college, begin researching colleges that match who you are as a student and person.

 

Testing
Take the PSAT.

 

november

Testing
Begin thinking about when you are going to take the different admissions tests. Ideally, you should complete all of the tests by June of your junior year. Completing your testing by June will reduce your stress levels during senior year when you will be filling out college applications.

If you haven't already, make arrangements to get admissions test tutoring. Students who do this often raise their scores by as much as 200 points. Remember, the best tutors are booked months ahead.

 

december

High School Counselor
Every once in awhile stop by to say hello to your high school counselor. You want to make sure that this person knows who you are as he/she will be filling-out your application School Report forms, something to which admissions officers pay a lot of attention.

 

Testing
December is usually when high school counselors provide you with the results of your PSAT, which will give you an idea of how you will score on the SAT.

Take a free ACT practice test (usually at no cost) at the likes of Princeton Review to see if you score higher on it or on the SAT. Decide whether the SAT or ACT better suits you.

 

Teachers
Also, take extra time with teachers who you might ask to write recommendations for you. Teachers need to know that you appreciate them.

 

january

Activities Resume
January of your junior year is a good time to begin putting together an activities resume.

 

College Fairs
Check to see when the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) and other college fairs are being held in your town or area. Mark your calendar with the date so that you can attend.

 

College List
If you haven't already, put together a preliminary college list.

 

College Visits
Make plans to visit colleges during Spring Break.

Take stock of how you are spending your time in and out of school. Is there anything you want to add or eliminate from your schedule? Make sure that everything you do is either something you enjoy or "counts" academically.

If you don't have a social security number, this is a good time to apply for one. You will need one for most college applications.

 

Testing
Sign up for the SAT, Subject Tests and/or the ACT offered between now and June.

 

february

Activities Resume
Update (or put together) draft of your activities resume.

 

Colleges
Begin emailing, calling or writing colleges for information about their schools. Also ask for the name and email address of the college representative assigned to your high school.

 

Counselors
Meet with your school counselor to have him/her evaluate your college list. Ask for suggestions of other colleges.

 

Summer Plans
Begin thinking about what you want to do this coming summer; colleges pay particular attention what applicants do the summer before senior year.

 

Testing
If you haven't already, make arrangements to get admissions test tutoring.

 

march

College List
Refine the list of colleges in which you are interested; start reading about them in the various college guidebooks, including The Fiske Guide, The Insider's Guide and Colleges That Change Lives.

 

College Visits
Use Spring Break as a time to visit colleges.

 

Grades
Remember that junior year grades are very important, especially those from Spring semester.

 

Testing
Make sure that you are signed up for AP Tests that are given at your school in May.

 

april

College List
Continue exploring and narrowing down your college list.

 

Senior Classes
Consult with your high school counselor about your senior year courses.

 

Summer Plans
Actively pursue your summer activities, whether a job, a special academic or enrichment program at a college, a trip or volunteer activity. Most importantly, do what you love.

 

Testing
If you haven't already, sign up for the SAT, Subject Tests and/or ACT so that you can finish up your testing by June.

 

may

Personal Stories
Begin collecting personal stories that you can use for your essays. Students, parents and family members can begin remembering anecdotes, apocryphal stories, and the like at family dinners or long car rides. Someone should write these down for use in the essay writing process.

 

Recommenders
Ask favorite teachers if they will fill out the teacher evaluation from for your college applications.

 

Senior Classes
Carefully choose your senior classes, taking into consideration the rigor of the program and balance in your life.

 

Summer Plans
Finalize your summer plans.

 

Testing
Take the AP test for any AP class in which you are enrolled.

 

june

Activities Resume
If you haven't already, finalize your activities resume.

 

Classes and Grades
Ace your finals.

 

College List
Have your college list narrowed down to the 10-20 colleges you like best. Arrange them into Reach, Good Chance and Pretty Sure categories (based on your SAT/ACT scores compared to successful applicants at the colleges.)

 

College Visits
Work with your parents to set up a schedule to visit colleges during the summer. Identify dates; call for interview appointments; research travel arrangements.

 

Internet
If you now use aol or hotmail, upgrade these servers or change to Yahoo, G-mail, cable or DSL service so that you can fully make use of college on-line applications.

Download the latest version of Internet Explorer or Netscape, the browsers that college applications require.

For MAC owners, Safari does not work for many college applications. Therefore, download Firefox here.

 

july

Application Filing System
Now is the time to buy a file box, put together your admissions application filing system, and gather/purchase all the materials you need to complete the applications.

 

College List
Continue updating your college list and researching colleges that interest you by reading about them in The Fiske and other guides, going onto college websites, and visiting the colleges.

 

College Visits
Begin making plans to visit colleges on your list during the fall. Identify dates; call for interview appointments; research travel arrangements.

 

Contact With Colleges
If you haven't done it before, July is a good time to make contact with the colleges on your list to let them know you are interested in them.

 

Essay Writing
For students who are in a fall sport, this is a good time to use your resume to begin brainstorming ideas for the short and long Common Application essays.

 

Learning Disabled Students
Make sure that your educational testing is up-to-date (within three years of the time you apply to colleges).

 

Recruited Athletes
Complete the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse form if you plan to play Division I or II college sports.

 

august

Applications
Determine which of the colleges on your list you want to apply to first. If possible, complete at least one application before school starts. What this means is filling out the application, finding a focus, brainstorming ideas for the essay questions and then writing drafts, having someone you trust proofread your application and edit your essays.

Since the Common Application is available; determine which colleges on your list accept the Common App. Download and print the application and the supplemental application forms for each college.

Go to the admissions section of each college website to which you plan to apply to see if their application is available on-line. If yes, download and print a copy.

Organize a Due Date grid for all of your colleges.

 

College List
Your college list needs to be finalized by the middle of this month.

 

College Interviews
To assure yourself of an interview during fall semester, late summer is the best time to call admissions offices for interview appointments. Ask if you can interview with the admissions representative assigned to your school.

 

Early Action/Decision
Decide whether or not you want to apply early to a college/s

 

Testing
Take some time to enjoy the rest of your summer. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!

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senior year timeline

Fall semester is the time when everything you have done as a high school student comes together for college admissions. This is your one opportunity to let college admissions officers know who you are and what makes you unique among applicants. Frankly, that's not difficult to do.

1. Simply take the time to carefully fill out the applications, making sure that there are NO omissions or mistakes.

2. Think through what you want colleges to "get" about who you are.

3. Write very good, interesting, personal application essays.

4. Also make sure your recommenders provide detailed information about your academic record, personal background and extracurricular activities.

5. If you can, try to meet (and if possible, interview with) college representatives assigned to your school (at your own high school, at the colleges, or at informational meetings in your city).

By going the extra mile, you will be successful in your college admissions.

september

APPLICATIONS

Calendar
Taking into consideration your schoolwork, sports and activities, block out time each week from now until December to work on applications.

Note application/financial and other due dates on your calendar so that you can work out a schedule to complete all on time.

College Admissions Offices/Representatives
Make final arrangements for any fall college interviewing trips.

Meet any college representatives of colleges on your list that come to your high school for information sessions.

Attend any college information sessions in your city.

Make arrangements for alumni interviews in your hometown.

 

Completing the Applications
Gather, download and print applications for your final college list. Check the Common Application website first and then individual college websites.

Identify essay questions for all applications and put them on an essay grid to see how the questions might overlap.

Decide on a focus for your applications; i.e., what you do you want admissions readers to "get" about you?

Begin brainstorming ideas for essay questions that reveal something about who you really are as a student and person. Use personal stories and your activities resume to come up with these ideas.

 

Early Applications
Decide whether or not you want to complete any early applications. Check the early application deadlines, many of which are at the end of October/first of November.

Begin filling out any rolling admissions applications, early and/or first choice college applications.

Give your high school counselor, teachers and/or other recommenders materials for early applications including filled-out top part of forms, addressed/stamped envelopes, a list of the early colleges and their respective due dates, and activities resume. Find out if your school and/or teachers and counselor will be using on-line recommendation forms.

 

Filing System
Create a file for each of the colleges to which you plan to apply. Click here for a sample filing system.

 

Recommendations

High School Counselor
If you haven't already, meet with your high school counselor to go over your college list. Review your transcript and activities resume to make sure that they are accurate and complete.

Teachers
If you haven't already, meet with special teachers to ask them to fill out the teachers recommendation forms.

Other Recommenders
Ask people who know something special about you (other than teachers and the school counselor) to write recommendations.

Letters Of Recommendation Packages
Put together recommendation packages and give them to your high school counselor, teachers and/or other recommenders materials for early applications.

 

Testing
Sign up for any SAT, ACT, or Subject Tests that still need to be taken.

 

october

Applications
Complete your early, rolling, or first choice school applications and mail/email them in time to meet the college deadlines. Most early deadlines are at the end of October, beginning of November.

Don't forget to print or photocopy everything that you send colleges.

File all admissions applications, test scores, etc. in your filing system. Don't throw anything away!

Make sure that your high school counselor, teachers and other recommenders send off their recommendation packages for your early, rolling applications.

Have test scores sent by College Board or ACT to the colleges to which you are sending early applications.

 

College Admissions Offices/Representatives
Make arrangements for any on-site or alumni interviews offered by colleges to which you are applying early.

Meet any college rep of colleges on your list that comes to your high school for an information session.

Attend any city meeting of colleges on your list.

 

Grades
Remembering, that many colleges pay close attention to first semester, sometimes even quarter grades, keep your grades as high as you can.

 

november

Applications
Continue completing and mailing/email top-choice college applications, recycling essays from applications already completed.

Have test scores sent by College Board or ACT to the colleges to which you are sending applications.

Don't forget to print or photocopy and file everything that you send colleges.

 

Financial Aid
Get the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE financial aid forms from your high school counselor or download them off the FAFSA or CSS Profile websites. Apply for your online PIN numbers.

 

december

Applications
Complete and mail all applications by the end of the month, but preferably before the end of school. It will be very useful to have all admissions tasks done by New Years.

Don't forget to print or photocopy all pages of your applications before emailing or send them.

Have your transcript sent to each college.

 

Follow-up With Colleges
If you have not yet been contacted by colleges whose applications you have completed regarding interviews, call the admissions offices to inquire how/when they will take place.

 

Recommendations
Make sure that your high school counselor has completed all of the School Report forms.

Make sure that your teachers and other recommenders have sent in their respective forms and letters.

 

january

Applications
Students with Early Decision acceptances need to say yes to that one school. Withdraw applications to other colleges.

For students who applied Early Action and/or Regular Admission, give your high school counselor copies of the Midyear Report forms. Provide a stamped, addressed envelope for each Midyear Report.

Complete and mail any last minute regular applications.

 

Financial Aid
Fill out and send FAFSA and PROFILE financial aids forms.

Complete individual college financial aid forms.

 

Follow-up With Colleges
Call each college on your list to see if they have received all of the required application materials. If the answer is yes, say thank you. If the answer is no, find out what is missing and immediately act to get the missing material to the college.

For colleges that provide application information on-line, check the respective websites to make sure they have received all of your materials. Follow-through appropriately.

Update colleges with any new information, including recent awards, athletic achievements, volunteer efforts, etc. This is particularly important for students deferred for Early Decision, or Early Action Single Choice applications.

 

february

Financial Aid
For students applying for financial aid, make sure that you meet each college's requirements and deadlines.

 

Follow-up With Colleges
Send an updated copy of your school transcript that includes first semester grades to each college to which you have applied.

If you have not done it before, update colleges with any new information, including recent awards, athletic achievements, volunteer efforts, etc.

 

Grades
Many colleges pay close attention to second semester grades. Don't slack off: keep them as high as you can. Colleges do rescind acceptances if student grades drop precipitously.

 

High School Counselor
Make sure that your high school counselor has mailed in the Midyear Reports and first semester grade transcript to all of your schools, including those at which you were accepted Early Action.

 

Parents
Parents need to complete their income taxes as soon as possible so the information is available for the FAFSA form.

 

march

College Visits
As acceptances start coming in, talk with you parents about last minute college visits to schools that really interest you.

 

april

Final Considerations
Attend admitted student programs at colleges to which you have been accepted. Also, attend local alumni receptions.

Narrow-down the list of schools in which you are interested. Review and discuss with your parents the financial aid packages offered by the schools. Negotiate aid with colleges if some offer more than others.

If you have trouble deciding which college you want to attend, consult with your college counselor, teachers or other people you respect.

If you are on a wait list for a college you really want, discuss with the school counselor what you can do to get off the list.

 

may

Your College Choice
By May 1, send in your admissions deposit and notify one college that you have decided to accept their letter of admittance.

Inform all other colleges that you will not be accepting their admissions offer.

Fill-out housing preference forms for your chosen college.

 

Recommenders
Let your college counselor, teachers and other recommenders know about your college decision. Thank them for their help.

 

Testing
Take your final AP tests.

 

june

Make sure a final transcript is sent to the college of your choice.

Note on your calendar when room and board and tuition is due for your college.

RELAX! HAVE FUN! CELEBRATE!

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