Planning Calendar

Freshman Year

  • Schedule rigorous courses, challenge yourself.
  • Review your EXPLORE test results with your counselors and parents.
  • Start looking at college entrance requirements. Your academic performance (GPA, class rank, types of courses you take) ACT or SAT test scores, teacher or counselor recommendations, extracurricular activities, essays, and interviews may all be important factors at many colleges for admissions consideration.
  • Research college costs, scholarships and other forms of financial aid. If you haven’t begun saving for college, do so as soon as possible.
  • All students should participate in some high school activities.
  • All students should find a community service project to volunteer and/or part time employment.
  • Use each summer to participate in programs to enrich academics or areas of special interest.

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to take challenging college prep courses, at least 5 academic courses.
  • Take ACT’s PLAN test, given to 10th graders. PLAN is great preparation for the ACT, it will also show your progress toward skills needed for college level work.
  • Review your PLAN results with your counselors and parents.
  • Learn about the education and/or training that different careers of interest require.
  • Take the PSAT in October, for practice, ask your school counselor about registering.
  • Start collecting information about colleges through your guidance department or by contacting the colleges themselves. Organize the info you receive in folders.
  • Build a list of colleges in which you are interested or that you may want to visit.
  • Continue researching sources of financial aid. Keep saving!
  • Attend a college fair, visit the representatives and ask questions about their programs.
  • Review your TOPS progress, request a detail report.
  • Begin your official visits to colleges of interest.

Junior Year

  • Continue taking challenging college prep courses, at least 5 academic courses.
  • Put together a portfolio that highlights your special skills and talents.
  • Take the PSAT in October, to compete in the National Merit Scholars Competetion. Register through your high school's guidance department.
  • Schedule official college visits. Your visit should include a campus tour, perhaps sitting in on a class, a meal in the campus dining hall, meetings with faculty and students, an appointment with a financial aid officer and an interview with an admissions counselor.
  • Start preparing for the ACT or SAT. Ask your school counselor for a free copy of Preparing for the ACT.  Use free on-line test prep sites such as, or
  • Investigate scholarship opportunities.
  • Review admissions and scholarship requirements from your top colleges, note their deadlines for each and be certain you meet these.
  • Get an estimate of how much financial aid your family may qualify for by completing ACT’s Financial Aid Need Estimator or use .
  • Begin comparing the costs of the colleges that you are considering.
  • Check with the colleges of your choice to determine whether you need to take the optional ACT Writing Test. Also check if you need any SAT subject area tests.
  • Register for a spring semester ACT or SAT, you may consider taking both.
  • Attend a college fair.
  • Review your TOPS progress, request a detail report.

Senior Year


  • Register for the ACT or SAT if you have not already taken it, or if you are not satisfied with your score.
  • Review ACT or SAT results to determine if further testing is necessary.
  • If you are a prospective college athlete, register with the NCAA

Fall Semester

  • Visit with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate, meet the TOPS requirements, and fulfill college admission requirements. (Also NCAA eligibility requirements if you plan to be a college athlete.)
  • Ask for personal references from teachers, school counselors, or employers early in the year. Follow your school’s procedure for requesting recommendations.
  • Visit with university admissions counselors who visit your school.
  • Attend a college fair.
  • Begin your college essay(s), if required.
  • Apply for admission and scholarships at the colleges you’ve chosen, in accordance with their deadlines. There are frequently different deadlines for each.
  • Send ACT or SAT test scores to the colleges which you've filed an application, if you did not list them to receive your scores when you registered for the test. Visit ACT or SAT to request additional score reports be sent.
  • See your high school's senior counselor to inquire how they advertise the scholarships they receive. Check your school’s website for any scholarships, also use other websites such as and to search for scholarships. Contact the department within the university you select to inquire about department scholarships and how to access them.

Spring Semester

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after January 1 as possible.
  • Keep working hard all year, 2nd semester grades can affect both admission and/or scholarship status.
  • Ask your school counselor if you need to send a transcript to the colleges of your choice or will it be accessed electronically.
  • Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll.
  • Continue to research scholarship opportunities.
  • Watch the mail (or email) for you Student Aid Report (SAR)-it should arrive 3-6 weeks after the FAFSA is filed.
  • Compare financial aid packages from different schools.
  • Decide which college to attend;most colleges require a decision by May 1.
  • Notify schools you will not be attending of your decision.
  • Notify your high school of all scholarships that you are offered, even those you do not plan to accept or use. Notify your college about any outside scholarships you have received.