College Planning The college planning process begins in middle school and is vital throughout high school to keep on track for both graduation and college acceptance. Our college planning timelines cover everything from taking the right classes, getting involved in extracurricular activities, testing, and finally college applications themselves.
Your freshman year lays the foundation for the rest of your high school career. This is the year to establish your academic and extracurricular plans and begin to explore career and future education options.
Pick the right classes.
Make sure you are enrolled in the appropriate college-prep classes and that you will fulfill your core requirements for English, history, math, science, and foreign language. Our convenient A-G Approved Course Lists for Fontana Unified Schools (2014-2015) will help you with this:
AB Miller High School
Fontana High School
Jurupa Hills High School
Kaiser High School
Summit High School
Make the effort to get involved with groups, clubs or teams that interest you. These activities are fun and make you a well-rounded student. Extracurricular activities are an important part of both high school and the college admission process.
Make the grades.
Start off high school with good grades because they impact your GPA and class rank. College may seem a long way off right now, but grades really do matter for college admission and scholarships.
Discuss your interests and skills with your College Bound case manager. Make sure to stop by Career Day and College Fairs at your school.
With the help of your College Bound case manager, keep track of academic and extracurricular awards, community service hours and achievements, and anything else you participate in so it is easier to remember when it comes time for college applications or creating a resume.
Learn about college.
Explore the college information available from your school and public libraries, use the internet to visit college websites, and take advantage of the college search tools to start creating a list of colleges that interest you. This is also a good time to get a feel for college lift by visiting campuses, checking out the dorms and student centers, and just walking on campus.
Make summer count.
Summer is a wonderful break from school, but that doesn't mean it has to be unproductive! Have fun and continue working towards college by volunteering, getting a job, or signing up for an enrichment program.
Your sophomore year is an important year for staying on track with classes and extracurricular activities. It's also the right time to narrow down your plans for the future.
Take the PSAT or PLAN assessment.
Taking the PSAT as a sophomore will help prepare you for the SAT next year and give you a feel for what is expected of you. The PLAN assessment will determine your study habits and academic progress while preparing you for the ACT. This step is also important to release your name to colleges so you will start receiving brochures and information packets from them.
Stay on track.
Work with your College Bound case manager to make sure you're enrolled in the classes you need to prepare for college. Move on to the next level of classes in the core subjects (English, history, math, science and foreign language). Begin looking into Advanced Placement (AP) courses for your junior and senior years.
Be a leader.
Stay involved in your extracurricular activities and work towards leadership positions in the activities you like best. Continue volunteering and building your community service hours.
Explore potential careers. Research career opportunities with more depth: learn about the skills, education, and training necessary for each occupation. If possible, look into internships or job shadowing in that field to get a feel for whether or not it would be a good fit for you.
Keep your grades up.
There is a lot competing for your time and attention, but it's important to remain focused on doing well in your classes.
Start your college search.
Use the college search tools to decide what factors are important to you and create a list of colleges that match your criteria. Attend college fairs and read the material you get from all types of schools - you may discover something unexpected that you like.
Write to schools and ask for more information about their academic requirements and any programs or activities that you're interested in. It's especially important to start this process now if you are considering a military academy or specialty program.
Take SAT Subject Tests.
If you're considering colleges that require SAT Subject tests, it's best to take them when the material is still fresh in your mind. For applicable classes, take the SAT Subject tests in May or June.
Get a summer job.
Steady summer work looks good to prospective colleges and future employers. Putting money away for college will also help you get a head start to pay for college.
Your junior year is a key year for college planning because you'll be taking standardized tests, narrowing down your college list, and learning about financial aid. Keeping up your grades and activities are a must this year.
Stay on track.
Meet with your College Bound case manager to see what you still need to take. Check your class rank and GPA, and keep improving. Now is not the time to slack off. Determine which classes you need your senior year to stay on track for graduation and boost your chances for college admission by taking challenging classes rather than easy electives.
Take the PSAT.
Take the PSAT in the fall to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program. It’s also the last opportunity to practice for the SAT.
Evaluate your options.
It is the time to narrow your college list to include schools that meet your most important criteria: two-year or four-year, career training, size, location, cost, and special programs. Make sure you have the important information for the colleges you are considering: entrance requirements, course offerings, financial aid, etc. Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you and develop a preliminary ranking of the schools on your list.
Create a testing plan.
Figure out when you'll be taking important tests like the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP exams. Mark the dates on your calendar because you'll want plenty of time to prepare. Register to take the tests you need in the winter or spring, so there is time to retake them in the fall of your senior year if you are unhappy with the scores.
Continue gathering information.
Go to college fairs, attend college nights, and speak with college representatives who visit your high school. Take the time this year to visit local college campuses, stay overnight in the dorms, and explore what college life is really like.
Meet special requirements.
If you want to play Division I or II sports in college, start the certification process and check with your College Bound case manager that you are taking core curriculum that meets NCAA requirements.
Stay involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in the non-academic activities you pursue. Taking on a leadership role and making a commitment to the same groups are more important that having a ton of new activities each year.
Learn about financial aid.
Look into your family's resources and gather information about financial aid from the schools you are interested in. Financial aid nights at your high school, college financial aid counselors, and advice articles are good sources of information. This is also the time to begin a scholarship search. Check with local organizations, companies, and non-profits to find them.
Contact your recommendation writers.
Teachers and counselors are often asked to write recommendations for lots of students. Consider whom you want to ask now and let them know so you'll have time to prepare before getting tons of requests in the fall. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say. Letters of recommendation from a coach, activity leader, or adult who knows you well outside of school are also valuable.
Summer employment or internship.
Employment and internships in fields you are interested in will look appealing on a college application or resume. The money you earn can also be used to help pay application and testing fees in the fall.
Make time to visit your top five college choices. Take a tour and speak with the admissions and financial aid staff. You may also be able to talk to students if some classes are in session. If you have an interview, send a thank-you letter to the interviewer when you return home.
If you plan to apply early decision to any school, take the time to visit the school and make sure you are willing to commit. Begin your applications as early as possible because the deadlines will be earlier than others.
Your senior year will be a busy time with schoolwork, activities, and special events. Stay on track with the college admissions process, get organized, be aware of deadlines, and don't procrastinate.
Finalize your college list.
Use the information you've gathered from research, college visits, and interviews to decide which schools you will apply to. It’s okay to apply to schools you think will be more difficult to get into, but it's also important to put in a few safety schools (where you are certain you will get into) on your list. Talk to your College Bound case manager, counselors, teachers, and parents about your final choices.
Stay on track.
Colleges do look at your senior year, so stay focused on doing well in your classes and committed to extracurricular activities. Register for and take the ACT, SAT, and SAT Subject tests as necessary. Be sure you have requested that your test scores be sent to the colleges of your choice. When your mid-year grades are available be sure to have them sent to the colleges you applied for.
Keep track of deadlines.
You will be filling out a lot of forms this year, so it is important to know what form is due when. Make a calendar showing the application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
Letters of Recommendation.
Give letter of recommendation forms to the teachers you have chosen, along with stamped, addressed envelopes so your teaches can send them directly to the colleges. Be sure to fill out your name and address and the school name on each form. Discuss your goals and ambitions with your teachers so they'll be more prepared to write about you.
Meet with your guidance counselor.
Your counselor can help you stay on track with admissions requirements. Make sure they know which colleges you want transcripts, score reports, and letters sent to. Give your counselors any necessary forms much earlier than the actual deadlines so they will have time to send the forms in.
Finish application forms for the schools you are interested in. Proofread them and make extra copies before you send them. Make sure you and your school's guidance office have sent all necessary materials, including test scores, recommendations, transcripts, and application essays. You should plan to get all this done before winter break so you won't be rushing to make deadlines.
Continue your scholarship search.
Apply for scholarships whose deadlines are approaching and keep searching for more scholarship and grant opportunities. Using online scholarship search tools is a great way to find potential aid, and don't forget to ask colleges about what scholarships you may qualify for. The downtime after applications have been sent is a great time to focus on financial aid.
Act for early decision applications.
If you applied early decision, you will hear back soon after the new year. If you were accepted, you must withdraw your other applications. If not, keep your other applications out there and focus on those colleges.
Verify with your counselor that all forms were sent out to colleges. Check with the schools to make sure they have received all your information, including test scores, transcripts, and recommendations.
Fill out FAFSA forms in January. FAFSA is available online or from your guidance counselor. No matter what income level your family is in, the FAFSA is your main priority for financial aid purposes because it will determine how much you are expected to pay.
College acceptance notifications.
If you applied under the regular application process, you should receive an admissions decision by March or April. Keep in mind that being put on a waitlist is not a rejection. Keep watching your mail and you should receive a decision by May. In the meantime, keep you options open in case you don't get in. Check out schools with late or rolling application deadlines.
Compare financial aid packages.
Financial aid awards should arrive by the end of April. Carefully consider each financial aid award. If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact the financial aid office of the college to get more information. Financial aid is a key factor in deciding where you will attend.
Make your final decision.
Notify all schools of your intent by May 1. If you are not sure which offer to accept, make one more campus visit to the schools you are considering. Make sure to send your deposit to your chosen school and ask your guidance counselor to send your final transcript to the college in June. You should receive information from the college about course scheduling, orientation sessions, housing arrangements, and other necessary forms. Be sure to complete all required paperwork by appropriate deadlines.
Follow up with financial aid.
Make sure you have received a FAFSA acknowledgement. If you applied for a Pell Grant, you will receive a student aid report statement. Review this notice, make a copy for your records, and send the original to the college you plan to attend. If necessary, apply for loans.
Congratulations! You have finished high school! Good luck as you set off on an exciting new journey!Back to College Bound