When Should I Start College Planning?
It is never to too early or too late to plan for college. The benefits of planning early are that you increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice and possibly funding your education through grants, scholarships and financial aid. As soon as you make the decision to go to college, you can get on a college track.
What is the Importance of Developing a College Timeline?
A college timeline helps you stay focused and to reach your goals within a certain timeframe. It helps you stay on track by managing the tasks needed to reach your goals.
Junior High College Prep
- Take challenging and interesting classes
- Volunteer and get involved
- Practice goal setting
- Talk to your school counselor about careers you find interesting
- Practice self-discipline and time-management skills
- Develop good study habits
Freshman and Sophomore College Prep :
- Take the most challenging classes you can handle.
- Learn at least one other language other than your native language.
- Take 4 years of a language.
- Talk to your school counselor about taking a skills inventory and career assessment.
- Participate in extracurricular activities.
- Research careers of interest and conduct informational interviews.
- Develop a college timeline with your parents and school counselor.
- Research internships and other academic enrichment opportunities.
- Start searching for scholarships and grants to help pay for college.
Junior Year College Prep:
- Continue to take advanced and challenging classes.
- Explore various careers and jobs which interest you.
- Stay actively involved! Join a club, volunteer or take on a leadership role.
- Make a list of colleges which interest you and research them.
- Contact colleges and request information brochures and application forms.
- Visit the colleges if possible.
- Attend college events at your school.
- Continue searching for scholarships and grants.
- Try to work hard and maintain a high grade point average.
- Enroll in Advanced Placement or other college programs to earn college credit while in high school.
- Take the ACT.
- Get a summer job to help earn money for college.
Senior Year College Prep:
- Re-take the ACT if you think you can get a better grade and/ or Take the SAT.
- Start applying for scholarships and grants.
- Apply with FAFSA to see if you will qualify for student financial aid.
- Create a portfolio of your skills, work and achievements.
- Ask teachers, coaches etc. to write you letters of recommendation.
- Write and perfect your college admissions essay.
- Visit career fairs and college events at your school.
- Continue to conduct informational interviews.
- Narrow down your list of colleges and apply to at least 4-6 schools, if possible.
- Make sure that ALL REQUIREMENTS and DEADLINES are met.
- TRIPLE CHECK all information for accuracy.
- Check for missing information, documents or signatures on all applications and forms.
- Submit completed applications, fees.
- Make sure high school transcripts are sent to the colleges you apply to.
- Continue to focus on school work and maintaining a high g.p.a..
- Get a summer job to help pay for college.
It should be noted that this is to serve as a general guide to college planning and preparation, individual planning may vary and should be coordinated with the help of your parents and school counselor.
Related Resources and Tools:
Federal Student Aid – A department of the U.S. Department of Education¬†includes helpful information and checklists for pre-college students and their parents. ¬†https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/college-prep-checklist.pdf
Upward Bound Program¬†–¬†This U.S. Department of Education program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits.¬†Upward Bound¬†serves: high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree.¬†http://www2.ed.gov/programs/trioupbound/index.html