HS Sophomores: College Timeline for High School

September

• Meet with your counselor to discuss your courses and college plans. Learn about Advanced Placement (AP) classes and which AP courses, if any, are available at your school. Advanced courses will prepare you for college-level work and may earn college credit.

• Consult with your counselor or other school personnel about taking the PSAT, a preliminary test that will prepare you for the SAT, and/or the PLAN, which offers practice for the ACT. Information about the PSAT can be found at www.collegeboard.org. To learn more about PLAN, go to www.actstudent.org.

• Start a calendar on which to list important dates and deadlines, such as the dates of important exams, college fairs, financial aid workshops, due dates for papers or other schoolwork.

• Decide on your extracurricular activities, keeping in mind what most interests you and what you want to learn more about or explore.

• Sign up for NCAA-approved courses if you are interested in college athletics. You can search for a list of approved courses by state, city, and high school name at https://web1.ncaa.org/hsportal/exec/hsAction.

October

• If offered at your school, take the PSAT in October. For advice on and practice in taking the test’s different sections, go to www.collegeboard.org/student/testing/psat/prep.html.

• For ACT practice questions, visit www.actstudent.org/sampletest.

• Continue to maintain a portfolio of your academic and extracurricular achievements and a record of your employment and volunteer work.

• Attend college fairs in your area.

November

• Find out more about college costs and financial aid. Learn about the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid), which you will have to file to be eligible for federal student aid and some colleges’ own aid, at studentaid.ed.gov.

• Assess your academic work. Meet with your teacher and school counselor to discuss your progress and any help you might need.

• Continue to explore colleges online and write to those that interest you for any additional information or materials. Resources to help you begin your search, including a way to compare different institutions, can be found at http://www.nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/.

December

• Review your PSAT and/or PLAN test scores with your school counselor. With the access code on your PSAT score report, you can sign in to My College Quick Start online for a personalized study plan to help you improve your score.

• Talk to your counselor and teachers about taking SAT Subject Tests in your strongest subjects. The schedule for the subject tests can be found at www.collegeboard.org (Search “Subject test”).

• Talk with friends and family members who are attending or have attended college about their experiences with college life.

January/February

• Keep studying, keep reading and work on your writing!

• Continue researching colleges and universities. Look for college guidebooks in your school counselor’s office and visit college and university home pages. Begin to identify each college’s application requirements. It’s not too early to start visiting colleges. If there is a college near you that you might like to attend, set up an appointment to tour the campus.

• Become a volunteer, as this is one way to explore your interests and possible careers.

• Visit colleges near you while they are still in session.

• Continue to save money for college and to learn about financial aid.

March/April

• Begin planning to sign up for rigorous courses during your junior year that will prepare you for college. Consult with your counselor or teachers about which courses they recommend.

• After discussing SAT Subject Tests with your counselor and teachers, register to take the test(s). Information about SAT fee waivers can be found at http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/sat-fee-waivers.

• Keep researching colleges and careers. 

May/June

• Begin planning for summer. Think about getting experience in an area that interests you. Research volunteer opportunities or consider taking a summer course or participating in an enrichment program at a local college. A list of summer programs at many private not-for-profit colleges is available on this site at http://www.nycolleges.org/plan-college/outreach-enrichment.

• Study (hard!) for final exams. Grades do matter in college admissions.

Summer

• Create a summer reading list. Ask teachers, mentors, and older students for recommendations.

• Visit college campuses near you.

• Do your summer job, volunteer work, or enrichment activity and make your summer a productive one.