The College Timeline

College timeline

It's never to early to start preparing for college and your future.

Freshman Year

  • Begin your high school career strong! Give your best effort in all of your classes. Freshman grades count in college admissions.

  • Focus on your five core academic classes: Math, English, Science, Social Science and Foreign Language. Take these classes all 4 years.

  • Challenge yourself by taking at least one advanced (Pre-Ap/Honors) course.

  • Get involved! Find some extracurricular activities that you might be interested in and try them out.

  • Read everything you can! This will help build your vocabulary and prepare you for more rigorous coursework.

  • Plan your summer. Find a camp or activity that sounds fun or interesting or that further develops a special skill or talent that you have

  • Start a file to save awards, report cards, certificates and honors. Always keep any personal essays you may write for any of your classes. You may need these later.

  • Meet your high school counselor. Talk to him/her about planning your classes with the goal of going to college.

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to work hard in all your classes. Set a goal to improve your grades (if needed).

  • Continue to be involved. If you are involved in several different activities, begin to narrow them down and focus on the ones that interest you the most.

  • Consider forming study groups with your friends and if you struggle in a class, seek extra help right away.

  • Begin thinking about colleges. Read about different ones to see what interests you.

  • Visit nearby colleges, even if they are not on your list. This is a great way to get a feel for different sizes of colleges.

  • Continue to read, read, read!

  • Talk to your counselor to plan your next year's classes. Make it a point of getting to know him/her.

  • Plan your summer. Consider a job, volunteer work, camps, travel or other activity. Maybe visit a college campus you are interested in.

Junior Year

  • Continue to work hard in all your classes. Take advanced classes if possible.

  • Take a 3rd year of the same foreign language even if it's not required.

  • Take the PSAT or PLAN in October.

  • Decide on your testing plan and register for the SAT or ACT or TOEFL (if needed) in the winter or spring.

  • Consider test prep classes as needed

  • Continue to be involved in activities. Look for leadership roles.

  • Attend college fairs.

  • Research colleges and create an initial list of schools to consider.

  • Plan some campus visits, perhaps over spring break.

  • Explore possible majors and careers by reading articles, talking to people and even try to shadow someone at work.

  • Keep samples of your best work in your file of activities and awards.

  • Take SAT Subject exams as needed.

  • Plan your summer-consider internships, jobs, or college classes, skill development.

  • Begin brainstorming topics for your college essays. Summer is a great time to start working on these.

  • Read, Read, Read!!!



Fall and Winter

  • Keep studying hard. Take AP/IB classes if available.

  • Take a 4th year of a foreign language.

  • Stay involved in extracurricular activities. Seek leadership opportunities.

  • Finalize your list of colleges. Create an application plan that includes timing decisions.

  • Visit the rest of the campuses on your list. Schedule interviews if available.

  • Ask your teachers and counselor for recommendations. Give them plenty of time and inform them of deadlines.

  • Take the SAT/SAT, Subject/ACT, TOEFL again as needed

  • Finish your college essays and applications.

  • Apply for Financial Aid (FAFSA and/or CSS PROFILE) in January.

  • Complete scholarship applications.


  • Celebrate your acceptance letters.

  • Visit any colleges you are seriously considering. Plan an overnight visit if possible.

  • Make your final decision and notify the colleges by May 1.

  • Enjoy the rest of your senior year-but don't get lazy! You still need to send in final transcripts.