Roadmap to College
- Concentrate on your school work and extra-curriculars. See if you're taking any classes that will prepare you to take any SATIIs. Even if you're not going to be ready, register and familiarize yourself with the College Board Website. The college board administers SATs, SATIIs, PSATs and AP tests to all high school students. It also offers invaluable information on the college application process and test prep.
- Get to know your Guidance Counselor, he or she will be invaluable during your high school career. They will give you advice, send your applications, read and review your recommendations, and they know the process having been through it with hundreds of other students.
It's a good time to start thinking about where you want to go to college. There are many books like The Princeton Review's Top 365 Colleges in the Colleges and Career Section of our library that will help to give u a better picture of different schools and how they might match with you. If you can't come in to look at our books, here are some good websites to peruse:
- My College Guide- a college search engine as well as admissions advice and other guides to get you through the process. You don't need to worry about the guides now, but this site will come in handy in a few years.
- CollegeNet- another site much like My College Guide, but it also includes financial aid help and scholarship info. This should be a favorite the next few years whenever you're wondering about the college process.
- In October, register to take the PSAT. This time your score won't matter, and it will give you a chance to get a feel for the test. You will even get your test booklet back with your answers and the correct answers so you can go over what you got wrong and know what kinds of problems you need to get better at.
- Figure out which SATIIs you will need for each college you might want to apply to and begin planning to take them spread about at the end of Sophomore year and throughout Junior Year. It's no fun having to take 3 SATIIs all in one day.
- Continue to narrow down your college choices using the books and sites we have recommended. By the end of this year you should have a list of about 6-10 schools that you want to apply to.
- In October, register to take the PSAT again. This time the score counts for the National Merit Scholarship and possibly for several other scholarships you may be looking to apply to later. Even if you don't feel you will do well, the test will remain good practice for taking the SAT in the future.
- Throughout the year, make sure you stay aware of registration dates for SATs and SATIIs. Most colleges will require at least 3 SATIIs: Writing, Math IC or IIC, and a test of your choice. If you are focusing on a science or engineering based school, you will probably want to take one of the science tests, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics, right after you have taken it in school. Talk to your teacher about how best to prepare. You should probably take the SAT in April, May or June of this year. This way, if you don't do well, you have time to retake.
- If you feel the SAT isn't for you, try the ACT another test which tests several subjects including math, science, verbal, and history. Some schools will take the ACT in place of the SAT and/or your SATIIs. Many students like the timing of and types of questions on the ACT better than the SAT.
- At the end of the end of the year, think about informing a few of your teachers that you will need recommendations for college. Teachers that know you well from Junior and Senior year will be best as some colleges feel that a teacher from sophomore year could not know you well enough to give an accurate description as to who you are.
Summer Between Junior & Senior Year
- During every summer, you should be looking to do things you enjoy or furthering your education by expanding your horizons with interesting summer programs and camps, travel to interesting places, or work experience. These experiences will help you get a handle of who you are, make your summers more interesting, and be very good fodder for essays when you apply to college or just essays you have to do for high school. But, the summer between Junior and Senior year is the most important of these summers. It will be the freshest in your mind if you choose to write about it in your college essays and the experiences will hopefully look nice on a resume. Of course, don't forget to have fun and do the things you enjoy and not just for your applications.
- At the end of the summer, while you are preparing to return to school, you should also begin to familiarize yourself with the applications and deadlines of the 6-10 schools you've decided to apply to. See if any of them accept the Common Application. If they do, register with CommonApp and get the biographical information out of the way. This will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend on your applications later.
- Make a list of all the deadlines for your applications so that you know where to stay on track while you get lost in Senior year.
- Register at College Confidential. This site gives you the inside scoop on everything that has to do with College from admissions, financial aid, and college life. It also has message boards where former applicants, current students, and plain helpful people will try to give you any kind of advice you need. Reading other threads can be very enlightening too.
- Hopefully, you've kept on track of your school work the last few years. Your academics from freshman to first semester of senior year will be very important in your application to college. Your course load senior year will go to show colleges that you are still willing to work even though your high school career is coming to a close. Don't think second semester senior year is time to slump. Many more students are finding that bad grades their second semester are causing colleges to recind their acceptances.
- If you are planning on applying to college rolling admissions or early action or early decision, you should get started as soon as possible. Begin writing your essays and collecting recommendations from your teachers by October. Make sure to have your english teacher or guidance counselor read over your essay before you send it.
- If you are applying regular admissions to college, you have time to retake or take the SAT or SATIIs that you missed or didn't do well on in October and November.
- Get in touch with your parents about starting the CollegeBoard's CSS Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. These two financial profiles will help colleges decide how much financial need you have and, hopefully, match it in full. Explore the FAFSA website in depth as it contains tons of information about financial aid and paying for college.
- Stay in touch with your guidance counselor and make sure you and him/her are on the same page during the application process. After everything is done, take some time to thank your guidance counselor as well as the teachers who wrote you recommendations. Gifts right before or right after December break are always welcome.
- By January, there will be nothing left for you to do on the college application front other than wait. It's a good time to start getting your financial aid and scholarships together. Several sites will help you find scholarships you can begin applying to: Fastweb, Scholarships.com, and CollegeNet.
- By April, you will hopefully have many schools sending you acceptance letters. Maybe you can't decide where you want to go. Check out, College Confidential for message boards where thousands of other students and former applicants will talk about their school and help you to make your decision.