College is Coming

College: that elusive thing that students dream about and parents fear the debt of. The place where children go to become adults. The promise land. Well, sort of. College is a promise land of sorts because it opens a doorway to potentially bigger and brighter futures. But, if you’re not prepared for college, it can feel like just the opposite – a waste land where dreams go to fall by the wayside.

Thankfully, college doesn’t have to be a waste land if you know what to expect and how to prepare yourself for reality. If you’re entering high school in the Fall, start thinking about college now. Begin to gather ideas about where you might go, what you might study, whether or not you think you will need financial aid and everything in between. You don’t necessarily need to have answers to these questions yet, but formulating on them is never a bad idea.

College Readiness Timeline

To make it easy, we have created a timeline that breaks down your college readiness steps in one place:

Sophomore Year

  1. Ask your counselor about the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and AP courses available at your school.
  2. Next, plan and set your goals for the future. Talk to your school counselor about your talents, schools that might appeal to you, and what you can realistically afford.
  3. Begin preparing for your PSAT in the summer months.

Junior Year

  1. First, register and study for the PSAT which will take place in October. This test will determine your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship.
  2. Attend College Fairs to speak with school representatives and learn about the application process and requirements for colleges you are interested in.
  3. Begin your SAT and ACT Test Prep with Huntington to develop your test-taking strategies.
  4. Determine when the SAT and ACT Test Dates are and what tests your favorite schools require.
  5. Then, develop a list of 20 preliminary schools that are of interest to you. Then, get more information about them from your guidance counselor.
  6. Investigate scholarship and financial aid opportunities.
  7. Take a deep breath and take your ACT, SAT, AP and SAT Subject Exams.
  8. Request catalogs and Application Forms from your list of preliminary schools. Schedule visits during the summer months.
  9. Retake the ACT/SAT if you’re not pleased with your score.

Senior Year

  1. Narrow down your preliminary list of schools from 20 to 5-7 final selections. Choose at least one “safe” school to which you are confident of being admitted.
  2. Ask your teachers for letters of recommendation that will accompany your college applications.
  3. Complete your FAFSA and other financial aid applications available through your guidance counselor.
  4. Send in all of your Early Action/Early Decision applications between November 1st and December 1st.
  5. Submit regular deadline college applications and financial aid and ensure your high school sends the necessary transcripts.
  6. Check the mail for decision letters through April.
  7. Happy Graduation!


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