Planning for College

Planning for college should begin once you enter high school. Here are things to do each year as you progress through high school.

Ninth Grade

  1. Planning for College, BooksBegin following a college preparatory program. Earn the credits you will need for college admission later on.
  2. Begin getting involved in extracurricular and volunteer activities. College admission officials value this participation heavily.
  3. Begin exploring your career preferences. This will influence your later choice of a college and a major.
  4. Work hard to achieve high grades. Your GPA will be an important factor in the college admission process.

Tenth Grade

  1. Take the PLAN Test (pre-ACT) and/or the PSAT (preliminary SAT). This will provide you with valuable experience that will help you when you later take the ACT and/or SAT. You will also identify areas in need of improvement.
  2. Begin seeking election to class offices or to organization offices. College admission officials regard holding office as an indicator of leadership potential.
  3. Begin exploring colleges on the Internet. Identify those that are recognized for strong programs in your areas of career interest.

Eleventh Grade

  1. Decide whether you will take the ACT, the SAT, or both. Consider your strengths and weaknesses when making this decision. Keep in mind that some colleges require one or the other.
  2. Study for these tests on your own. Take test preparation classes if you can.
  3. Begin taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in your areas of strength.
  4. Take the ACT and/or SAT.
  5. Consider visiting college campuses that meet your interests and capabilities. Make requests from the registrars’ offices for visitation tours of the campuses you wish to visit. Talk with students attending these colleges and ask about their experiences as students there.

Twelfth Grade

  1. Planning for College, BuildingContinue to visit college campuses if feasible. Explore the community around each campus.
  2. Obtain letters of recommendation from teachers and others who can speak favorably on your behalf, and role models who have influenced you. Ask the writers to address why you would be a successful college student and what you can bring to a college.
  3. Retake the ACT and/or SAT to improve your scores if needed. When preparing to do so, focus your preparation on the areas in which you scored lowest.
  4. Apply to more than one college. Admission to college is becoming increasingly competitive – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
  5. Apply for financial aid and/or scholarships. College costs have become very high, but fortunately, financial assistance can be obtained if you look carefully at the many sources available. Guidance counselors can help you locate these sources.
  6. Don’t miss application deadlines for admission and financial aid.

Remember! Start your planning for college as soon as you enter high school.