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Planning For College

Tips for 9th and 10th grade students

  • Select a strong high school academic course of study – take tough courses!
  • Develop strong study skills and time management techniques.
  • Develop a reading plan that includes novels, newspapers, magazines, and nonfiction books. These activities build a strong vocabulary.
  • Get involved in a wide variety of activities. Choose activities that show leadership and involvement. Participate in activities both inside and outside of school.
  • Set up a filing system that keeps track of awards, honors, activities, volunteer work, employment etc. Include everything!
  • Take the PLAN and PSAT tests.
  • Start exploring college and major options – start thinking about geography, size of school, and why you want to go to college in general? What do you value?
  • Plan meaningful summer activities such as internships related to future career ideas, volunteer work, summer classes, and arts/sports programs.
  • Consider taking the SAT II tests when you finish a college prep subject area such as Biology or World History.
  • Most importantly, keep those grades up!

The Junior Year Calendar.

  • Begin to think about your reasons for going to college. What are your goals?
  • Start to plan your extra-curricular projects for this year and next.
  • Take the PSAT and PLAN tests. • Attend college programs and workshops.
  • If you might be interested in military academy or ROTC, get info now.
  • Focus on doing well in your classes. The junior year is looked at closely by colleges.
  • Set up a place and files for college materials (your crate!). Create the “CRATE” PDF: 36K
  • Start familiarizing yourself with your college resources. December • Continue to think about the best college environment and major for you.
  • Plan holiday visits to colleges. Don’t forget your journal! College journal PDF: 56K
  • Talk to your ES about signing up for any applicable AP Test.
  • Receive your PSAT/PLAN results and study the materials that come with them.
  • Decide if you will need test prep for SAT/ACT and SAT II and schedule your test prep. February
  • Begin college search in earnest. Identify the important factors in choosing a college for you. Two year or four year? Location? Public or private? Cost? Scholarship opportunities? Focus on your goals.
  • Register for the April SAT I.
  • Register for the April ACT.
  • Continue with your SAT/ACT prep programs.
  • Register for the April SAT if you haven’t already.
  • Register for the April ACT if you haven’t already.
  • Meet with the Forest College and Career Center to begin your “long list” of 20 colleges that you are exploring seriously.
  • Research interesting summer programs, scholarships, jobs, volunteer work, and other summer opportunities.
  • Visit colleges if able (don’t forget your journal!).
  • Register for the May SAT I or SAT II
  • Attend spring college info nights and weekends at colleges you are interested in.
  • Attend spring college fairs. May • Take the SAT I or SAT II.
  • Register for any June tests you need to take (SAT I, SAT II, or ACT)
  • Take all appropriate AP exams. • Narrow your college list if possible and/or add new ideas.
  • Decide which colleges to visit in the summer. June • Retake the SAT I or SAT II
  • Take the ACT. • Finish the year strong with your classes. This is your most important semester.
  • Finalize all summer plans.
  • READ – you are often asked what you are reading in a college interview.
  • Work on rough drafts of college essays and resume.
  • Do something that none of your friends are doing, something that makes you stand out in a crowd.
  • If you need to work, try to do an internship.
  • Analyze and understand your ACT/SAT results and prepare to take the tests again in the fall.


  • Register for October and November SAT (SAT I) and Sept./Oct. ACT tests.
  • Meet with your high school college advisor to review college lists and grad. requirements.
  • Call any college you have not contacted for applications; organize your files, photocopy applications, begin to fill out rough drafts.
  • Gather financial records.
  • Decide the number of colleges and cost of applying (three tiered list). Download PDF: 40K
  • Submit PROFILE registration form for colleges requiring PROFILE.
  • Take ACT if the test is in September.
  • Work on rough drafts of college essays.
  • Watch for scholarships.
  • Fill out your deadline calendar and give your college advisor a copy. Download PDF: 32K October
  • Register for December ACT/SAT I/SAT II.
  • Take ACT/SAT I/SAT II.
  • Attend all college info programs.
  • Finish research, compare colleges, reduce your list to between 6-10 schools.
  • Plan visits to colleges and schedule interviews (always send a thank you card).
  • Attend college weekends.
  • Continue to work on rough drafts of college essays and applications.
  • Send in “Early Decision” or “Early Action” applications.
  • Begin UC/CSU applications.
  • Keep watching for scholarships.
  • Send in UC and CSU applications as early in the month as possible.
  • Take the SAT I or SAT II.
  • Register for December SAT if you haven’t already.
  • Finish all rough drafts of essays and go over then with college counselor, parents, and teachers.
  • Give all recommendation and secondary school report forms to teachers and counselor to complete. Download PDF: 40K
  • Apply to your “choice colleges” and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork turned in.
  • Observe deadlines. Send in transcripts and test scores.
  • Keep your grades up! Colleges do look at semester and year end grades. December
  • Take SAT I or SAT II (also ACT if needed)
  • Work on and send in private college applications as you finish them.
  • Plan holiday visits to schools.
  • Mail ROTC if applicable.
  • Collect Financial Aid information packet and pick up your FAFSA form and Cal Grant materials.
  • Talk to your ES about signing up for any applicable AP Test January
  • Request 7th semester transcripts to be sent to colleges that request them. Mid-year Report Download PDF: 44K
  • Check with teachers, counselor, and colleges to ensure all forms have been mailed.
  • Let your college advisor know your first choice colleges.
  • Stay in contact with your representative at those colleges. Ask if you can send any additional academic or talent information or letters.
  • Watch application deadlines.
  • Keep sending your applications. It is not too late to apply to many colleges.
  • FAFSA and Cal Grant material may be sent anytime after January 1st. February
  • Check that the college has received financial, test scores, and all other forms. Can you apply for housing now? Find out.
  • Some college acceptance letters may arrive. Inform your counselor when you hear from a college.
  • Pursue scholarship options. Watch for due dates!
  • Stay calm – enjoy your senior year.
  • Send thank you letters to teachers, employers, and anyone who helped you. March
  • Talk to any community colleges if you are applying there and get applications for these schools.
  • Submit tax forms to the Financial Aid office of colleges who request them.
  • Send any new material which may help colleges.
  • Watch for Student Aid Report (SAR) to arrive, giving amount of student aid for which you are eligible. Make sure your colleges receive it. Keep the original.
  • Register for AP tests.
  • All colleges should respond this month.
  • Decide where you wish to go. Revisit if necessary when making tough choices. Go to information meetings you are invited to. Write to the college you accept and those you do not. Inform your college advisor and teachers of your decision.
  • Wait listed? Write “pleading letter” and ask for help. Most colleges don’t decide wait lists until June/July.
  • Submit applications to community college if you are going there. Take placement tests.
  • Start looking for summer jobs.
  • Mail in deposit to one college by May 1st. Sign and return your financial aid letter also, if you received one, to accept it.
  • Fill out loan applications.
  • UC – Subject A exam.
  • CSU – placement exams.
  • AP exams.
  • Fill out all housing forms, if available. J
  • Congrats, graduate!!! Enjoy your summer…you’ve earned it! •
  • Turn in your final transcript request to college advisor.
  • Attend all advising days, open houses, orientation programs, and registrations days offered by your college.
  • Read books on how to survive in college – physically, emotionally, and academically.