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Looking into one's collegiate future can be daunting, especially when you realize your journey to college begins freshman year. Make it a good point to start planning now. For students and parents we compiled some important tasks for you to mark off your college check list on your way to a great college education.

Freshmen Year

  • Enroll in a college preparatory curriculum
  • When possible, write papers, do projects, etc. about college
  • Enter essay, speech contests, science fairs/contests for scholarships and awards
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Explore careers and job opportunities in those careers
  • Study hard and do well in school - From now on your grades will count toward
  • college and will show up on your permanent record
  • Start to attend events on college campuses (plays, concerts, sporting events, activities related to your major, etc.)
  • Get to know your high school counselor (the College or Senior Counselor) and let them get to know you and your goals, career aspirations, schools you are considering, etc. Your parents may want to go along too.
  • Talk to your friends about what they plan to do after college. Talk to your parents and your friends’ parents about what they do.
Sophomore Year
  • Take the PLAN Test
  • Take the PSAT Test (Fall) as a practice for when it really counts, next year
  • Use the Internet and start looking at colleges through their web sites, sign up for their Podcast, etc.
  • Start attending college fairs in your area (where the colleges come in and give away information about their schools).
  • Get a job (EVEN if your last name is Gates or Trump and you don't have to)
  • Start a college savings account and regularly deposit into it (in addition to what your parents have for you).
  • "Job shadow" someone who does what you think you'd like to do (that means to follow them around for a day)
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Explore careers and job opportunities in those careers
  • Study hard and do well in school – Remember, your grades will count toward college and will show up on your permanent record
  • Start to attend events on college campuses (plays, concerts, sporting events, activities related to your major, etc.)
  • Get to know your high school counselor (the College or Senior Counselor) and let them get to know you and your goals, career aspirations, schools you are considering, etc. Your parents may want to go along too.
  • Talk to your friends about what they plan to do after college. Talk to your parents and your friends’ parents about what they do.
Junior Year
  • This year's academic record will go a long way toward either helping or hurting your chances of gaining admission to your schools of choice. You can make up ground if you've been slacking and you can keep up the hard work you've already exhibited.
  • Volunteer to help someone a year older than you locate scholarship information with the understanding that you’ll get all their information when they’re through.
  • Take the PSAT in October (this one is to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Competition). It can be very important
  • Attend an ACT/SAT preparation workshop (if you can't, you should purchase practice books, software, etc. to help you prepare)
  • Take the ACT and/or SAT during the spring semester. That way you'll have at least one score going into your senior year. This also puts you on schools’ mailing lists and gives significant information to the schools you are considering.
  • Research possible colleges and request or download information from them
  • Visit college campuses (campus tour, visit with advisors/faculty, pick up admission packet)
  • Take solid elective courses (extra math, science, foreign language, social sciences, computers, etc.)
  • Talk to friends and family to gather ideas on colleges
  • Run for leadership positions in the organizations you are involved in Ask your high school counselor for suggestions as to colleges you should consider but might not have thought of on your own (based on major, scholarships, location, etc.)
  • Get to know the admission criteria for your top schools. Know where you stand in relation to those requirements and work toward changing what you can (if you fall short).
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Explore careers and job opportunities in those careers
  • Study hard and do well in school – Remember, your grades will count toward college and will show up on your permanent record
Senior Year
  • Visit the College Answer Guy (www.collegeanswerguy.com) and

    CollegePrep-101 (www.collegeprep101.com) and read the chapters on

    "Application Process" and "Choosing a College", among others.

  •   Continue to challenge yourself and take solid elective courses (don’t

    take a blow-off schedule, fight senioritis).

  •   Attend college fairs in your area.

  •   Visit college campuses, visit many, visit often. Attend events at the

    colleges you are interested in.

  •   Talk to people whose opinions you respect about the schools you are

    considering

  •   Go stay with friends who are in college. Find out what they like and

    dislike.

  •   Explore careers and job opportunities in those careers. Talk to your

    parents and your friends’ parents about what they do.

  •   Make sure your high school counselor knows what you’re lookingfor

    in a college so he/she can help you choose the best one for you.

  •   Talk to your friends about what they plan to do after high school.

    Early Fall

  •   Read the College Answer Guy’s “Making the Most of your Relationship with your High School Counselor”.

  •   Gather applications to the schools you are considering (note deadlines for admission, scholarships, housing, etc.).

  •   Sit down with everyone who has a stake in your college decision and solicit their input. Listen to what everyone has to say.

  •   Line up people to write letters of recommendation (choose people who actually know you, not just those with a cool title). Give them plenty of time to write the letter(s).

  •   Borrow scholarship information (contact names, addresses, applications, etc.) from someone a year ahead of you who received several scholarships and/or had the same major as you, or someone with comparable involvements and activities.

  •   Get to know the admission criteria for your top schools. Know where you stand in relation to those requirements and work toward changing

what you can (if you fall short). If you do fall short of the

requirements, early application could be your ticket “in”.

  •   Take the ACT/SAT in September/October (repeat as necessary or

    desired).

  •   Apply for admission (if seeking early admission).

    Mid-Fall

  •   Talk to your high school counselor about local scholarships and get the applications.

  •   Keep checking back periodically throughout the year for information on the latest scholarships, but don't drive them nuts!

  •   Apply for admission (unless you already have).

  •   Apply for scholarships before Christmas break if application deadline

    isn’t earlier. (verify the arrival of your application,transcripts, etc.).

    Spring

  •   Attend a financial aid workshop with your parents.

  •   Apply for financial aid (as soon after Jan. 1 as possible)

  •   Take CLEP/AP Tests (if applicable)

  •   Go back for a second or third visit to campuses you really like.

  •   It’s time to make a decision!

    As Soon as You Choose a School

  •   Apply for housing

  •   Get familiar with your college and what you will need when you get

    there. Learn about:

oHousingoptions(on-campus,off-campus,Greek,etc.)
oCourseselection/scheduling
oFaculty/Programs in your major
oDoyouneedacar?
oWhere will you park?
oDoyouneedabike?
oShould you have your own computer? Desktop or laptop?

Summer before college

  •   Enroll as early as you possibly can.

  •   Attend a summer orientation program. Also be sure to enroll in a

    freshman orientation class, even if it isn't required.

  •   Make a list of what you will need to take to college (coordinate with your roommate so you won't have two of everything). Carpet? Refrigerator? Microwave? Stereo? Computer? Etc.

  •   Work with your parents on a financial plan or budget. Where will your money come from? Who pays for what? How/When to ask for more? What constitutes an emergency? Consider a credit card - really, just for emergencies.

  •   Make a list of personal care items you use and go price shopping. You won't believe how much a toothbrush costs!

  •   Start planning for how you’ll communicate with your parents and friends while you’re at college –e-mail, cell phone, IM, etc. Consider cost, availability and ease of communication. Ensure clear and easy communication with your folks and see if they’llpay for part or all of that. You should probably pay for the rest.

  •   Make sure to take a tour of YOUR classes before school starts so you won't get lost or look foolish on the first day of class.

These are some ideas to get you started. Keep your head in the books and everything will fall into place. #squareup 


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