College Checklist

Did You Know?

Your College Checklist tells you everything you need to do to be ready for college. Be more organized and prepared for college. Get a leg up on your fellow classmates. Follow the links below to learn more at every step.

8th Grade

College might seem like it's far in the future, however, it's time a good time to begin your initial college planning strategies. Sketch out a four year high school class schedule that includes fours years of English and math, three years of science and two to four years of a single foreign language. When planning, remember that you can't take calculus your senior year of high school unless you've taken algebra in middle school.

9th grade

  • Plan for college in the classes you choose.
  • Watch your grades. Your grade point average begins now.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities at your school. Think about "your brand." Who do you want to be in four years? Choose activities to grow and support who you want to be.
  • Begin an activity resume.
  • Consider taking a class to improve study skills or a speed-reading class.

10th grade

  • Continue to choose challenging courses and keep your grades up.
  • Take the PSAT and SAT II subject tests as you finish the classes.
  • Evaluate your extracurricular activities. Drop the boring stuff and try something new!
  • Consider attending an academic or athletic camp at a college campus next summer. Spending time on campus is fun and most schools offer summer camps tailored to whatever your interests might be: engineering, theatre, sports, leadership, debate, science, creative writing, etc...

11th grade

Junior year is the most important in terms of college admissions planning. Although your grades are important, you should also be doing preliminary work on your college applications. The Common Application and the Coalition Application are both available to you before your senior year. Take advantage of this time to work on applications a little at a time.

  • Find ways to show leadership, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Start thinking about what kind of school you might want to attend.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT in October and the ACT in April.
  • Choose the academic core teachers you want to write your letters of recommendation.
  • Ask them politely for their help in April or May.
  • Tour some colleges to find out what you like in a campus: large/small, urban/suburban/rural, public/private, liberal arts/research
  • Find something cool to do this summer: work, volunteer, do an internship, design your own community service or research project.

The summer before 12th grade

First semester of 12th grade

  • Remember to breathe!
  • Find those leadership positions. They're often more available to seniors.
  • Make a list of everything you want colleges to know about you. Use the list to make sure your applications are a good representation of you.
  • Narrow your list to 4-8 colleges.
  • Meet with your school counselor. You will need their help coordinating recommendations, transcripts, scholarships, early decision. Help them write you the best recommendation they can!
  • Finish up standardized testing and send score reports to the colleges.
  • Keep your grades up! Your average is set, but first semester grades can mean the difference between deferment and admission.
  • Finalize your essays, complete your applications and send those puppies in.
  • Go out in the backyard and scream at the top of your lungs into the dark sky, then sleep for three days.

Second Semester of 12th Grade

  • Go to to fill out the FAFSA and submit it to your schools.
  • Encourage your parents to file their taxes early.
  • Stay active in school. Even after acceptance, schools want your mid-year and final grades. Senioritis is real, but nothing you can't handle.
  • Be sure to write a "letter of continued interest" ("deferral letter") to any school who defers or waitlists you, if you're still interested in attending.
  • Expect acceptance letters and financial aid offers by mid-April.
  • Visit colleges who have accepted you if you haven’t already.
  • Make your decision by May 1. Be sure to tell your counselor what you decide!
  • Inform any other colleges who have accepted you that you will not attend.
  • Send in your housing deposit, update your Facebook status, and follow your new school’s Tumblr 'cuz you're going to college. Congratulations!