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The College Application Calendar

Hand filing out an application

It’s not a bad idea to start college planning now. High school graduation day will be here before you know it. If college is in your future, get on the path to the campus of your choice with this helpful college planning calendar.

11th GRADE

Take the PSAT Test. This is a standardized, practice test for the SAT college entrance exam, which you will need to get into most institutions. Use the feedback from the PSAT scores to identify strengths and weaknesses in your studying and test taking, and to help you become familiar with the kinds of questions you will encounter on the SAT.

When taking the PSAT, make sure that you check “yes” for the Student Search Service, a free service that will mail you all sorts of information on colleges and scholarship programs that match your demographic information. It will also automatically qualify you to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship.

Decide Who You Are - The Self-Assessment.
Before you can find the right school for yourself, make some early decisions about what you might want to do in your life. A good way to pinpoint your interests is with a Self-Assessment or a Career Assessment Test. Talk with your high school guidance counselor to help you.

Identify What You Want in a School. There is a school out there to fit every student's needs. Characteristics to keep in mind include:

  • Size (big, medium, small)
  • Location (local, in a nearby town, or far away)
  • Programs (types of courses/majors)

Talk to Others. Chat with seniors at your school who have already been accepted to college. Look for people who have grades or interests similar to yours and see which schools they applied to and who accepted them.

Start a List of Colleges that Match Your Needs.
Talk to your guidance counselor and take a look at the college rankings and guidebooks. Create a list of six or more schools that seem to have what you’re looking for. Then divide the list into three groups:

  • Schools that will probably accept me
  • Schools that I really like
  • My dream school (even if it is hard to get into or expensive)

Study for The SAT or ACT. See if your colleges require you to take the SAT or ACT. Based on your PSAT scores, figure out what you need to study to do your best on these tests. Then, take the test in the Spring of your 11th Grade, or if you are not in high school, at least a year before when you want to go to college. 

Take the SAT or ACT.
If you don't do as well as you would like, you have plenty of time to take it again in your senior year to improve your score.

12th GRADE

Sign Up for the SAT or ACT, if Needed. 
Now is the time to sign up for the SAT or ACT if you need to re-take it or take it for the first time. Take the test as early in the 12th grade as possible, in case you need to take it again. The test is offered in October, November and December.

Apply to your top college picks.
Go back to the list you made in February and choose which schools you want to apply to.

Apply for Financial Aid. College can be expensive for most families. Fill out your financial aid application now to help you pay for tuition. Learn more about paying for college.

Find Scholarships. Take advantage of the free money out there! There are a number of scholarship programs available to help pay some or all of your college education. Look for available scholarships now.

Talk with College Admissions. Find out if you can afford tuition with a combination of grants, loans and scholarships.

Make a Final Decision. Based on your letters of acceptance, financial aid and other considerations, decide where you are going to go to college.

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