Planning for College

College Planning Checklist



Talk with your high school counselor about what classes they recommend for college preparation.

Work with them to set goals for each year.

Volunteer in your community in an area you're passionate about.

Get involved with extracurricular activities of interest to you.

Enter essay contests, science fairs, and other contests to start getting awards.

Study hard and do well in school. Your grades will count on your record.



Talk with your high school counselor about your aspirations and any schools you're considering.

Continue taking challenging courses.

Participate in extracurricular activities in areas of interest to you.

Continue to volunteer in your community.

Take the PSATs.

Start checking out colleges online.

Attend college fairs in your area and/or drop by to meet colleges when they visit your high school.

Get a part-time job or internship, ideally in an area you're considering working in.

Start talking with your parents and other adults you know about what they do as you explore what you'd like to do when you get out of college.



Take elective courses (extra math, science, foreign language, etc.)

Work hard. Your academic record this year really counts!

Attend test prep presentations.

Take the PSATs in October.

Take an ACT/SAT preparation workshop.

Work ACT/SAT practice time into your daily schedule at least six weeks before you take the test.

Take the ACT and/or SATs during the spring semester.

Talk with your high school counselor about suggestions for colleges

Research colleges online and make a list of schools you'd like to visit in person.

Prepare a list of questions to ask when touring schools.

Put together a college comparison worksheet.

Schedule time to tour campuses and meet with advisors and faculty.

Find out about the admissions criteria for the schools you're interested in and work toward those goals.

Look for scholarship information online and start thinking about the types of scholarships you'd like to aim for.

Volunteer for activities and clubs related to your career interests.

Get a part-time job or internship in a field that interests you.

Consider putting together a portfolio that highlights your special skills and talents.


In the Fall:


Talk with your high school counselor about which are your top schools and how best to prepare for admissions.

Get input from your parents, teachers, counselors, and other trusted advisors about college choice.

Watch presentations on writing college essays.

Check deadlines for admissions, scholarships, and housing at schools of interest.

Ask for letters of recommendation from teachers, school counselors, and employers at least two weeks before application deadlines.

Attend events, games, or other events at colleges of interest to you.

Stay in touch with friends in college to hear what they like and don't like about their school of choice.

Begin your college essay(s).

Take the ACT or SATs.

Apply to schools (if you're seeing early admission).

Talk with your counselor about local scholarships.

Fill out applications before Christmas break.

January - May:

Ask your high school counselor office in January to send first semester transcripts to schools where you applied.

If possible, visit colleges where you were invited to enroll.

Complete the FAFSA.

Attend a financial aid workshop, ideally with your parents.

Watch the mail for your student aid report. It should arrive four weeks after you complete the FAFSA.

Compare financial aid packages from different schools.

Once you choose a school:

Send in your initial deposit.

Notify schools that you aren't attending.

Apply for housing.

Learn about the school (ex: course selection dates, faculty/programs in your major, transportation/parking needs, etc.)


Attend a summer orientation.

Make a list of what you need to take to college, including books, clothing, personal care products, and your computer gear.

Work with your parents on a budget.

Check out where your classes will be and what other facilities/resources are on campus.