College Preparation Timeline

Freshman Year

  • Learn what classes and other requirements (like community service) your child must complete in order to graduate from high school. Your child should take challenging courses and get good grades.
  • Make an appointment to meet with your child's school officials to discuss your expectations.
  • Help your child identify his or her talents, strengths, and career goals.
  • Suggest ways your child can get involved with school and community activities.
  • You child should start fulfilling his or her community service graduation requirement.

Sophomore Year

  • Encourage your child to study hard and make good grades.
  • Your child can take the PSAT. The PSAT is like a practice SAT. There is a fee to take the PSAT. Ask your child's guidance counselor for more information. When your child takes the PSAT he or she can register with the Student Search Service. This service passes your child's name, address, grade level, and intended major to the nation's colleges and universities. Those schools will then begin to send your child information about their programs and financial aid. This is a great way to get information on schools your child may want to apply to later.
  • Continue to talk to your child about his or her career goals. Schedule a few summer campus tours.
  • Buy or borrow an SAT prep book for your child to use over the summer. Help your child identify areas that need the most review.
  • Encourage your child to continue to fulfill the community service graduation requirement. Remember that colleges and scholarship programs know that many school districts require community service hours. If you want to really impress a program, it is necessary for your child to do hours above and beyond the graduation requirement.

Junior Year

  • Your child should take the PSAT in his or her junior year. If your child took the test sophomore year, it is likely that his or her scores will be higher during junior year. If your child scores high enough on the PSAT in junior year, he or she may qualify to receive a National Merit Scholarship for college. And many schools will be interested in your child.
  • Your child should talk to his or her guidance counselor about future college plans.
  • Your child should register for and take the SAT toward the end of the junior year. (It's a good idea to take the SAT several times, so this would be the first time.)
  • You and your child should visit college campuses.
  • Your child should start researching and requesting scholarship information from financial aid sources such as local organizations, your employer, and private groups.
  • Encourage your child to continue to fulfill the community service work.

Senior Year

  • Your child should finish up any remaining community service work early in the year.
  • Your child should register to take the SAT in October or November. (That means registration must be complete by late August or late September.) Your child might be eligible for a fee waiver for the test. (A fee waiver for the SAT also qualifies your child for fee waivers for college application fees. The college application fees are usually $15-$75, so it's a good idea for your child to get the SAT fee waiver, so they can then get the college application fee waivers.)
  • Your child should ask teachers, coaches, or community service supervisors for recommendations. Remind your child to ask for recommendations as early as possible.
  • Your child should research colleges online or have materials sent from various colleges. Make copies of the applications so your child can do a rough draft application.
  • Create a folder for each school your child is applying to. Write all deadline dates on the cover of each folder. Keep all forms, brochures and applications in the folders.
  • Review and proofread the rough draft applications your child has completed.
  • Help students with brainstorming for essays. Review and make suggestions on rough draft essays.
  • Make sure your taxes are filed as early as possible in January because your child will need information from your tax form in order to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid.) The FAFSA is required in order to get any kind of financial aid.
  • Your child should start receiving college admissions decisions in early spring.

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