Preparing For College Timeline

9th grade

  • Focus on the transition to becoming a high school student.  Stay organized and ask for help when needed.
  • Get involved and participate in extracurricular activities.  Explore the clubs and athletic teams available and sign up for those you think you would most enjoy.
  • Consider taking the PSAT in October as a “practice” for the SAT.
  • Start considering and researching possible careers by talking with family members and other adults to get ideas about fields you might want to pursue.

 10th grade

  • Sign up for the highest level academic courses for which you qualify (Honors classes and/or an AP course).
  • Keep your grades up!  Colleges will look at your transcript from 9th – 12th grade including all courses and final grades.
  • Consider registering for PSATs in the fall.  This test may help prepare you for the SAT and help identify weaknesses in time to address them.  The test is given in October.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities.  Colleges like to see focus and commitment to a few activities.  Work toward leadership roles in the activities that you like best.
  • Attend the Christian College Fair – held at PCS in October (date listed on the school calendar)
  • Take AP Exams (if appropriate) for any Advanced Placement courses you have this year.
  • Explore taking SAT Subject Test (if appropriate).  Registration and more information can be found at www.collegeboard.com
  • If you are considering playing collegiate sports, look into the National Collegiate Athletic Association:  www.eligibilitycenter.org to ensure that you are taking the correct courses to meet the NCAA requirements.
  • Also think about other ways to make the most of your summer vacation.  Examples include volunteering, working and visiting colleges.
  • Explore “Careers, Interests, and Personality Profile” on Naviance.

 11th grade

Fall/Winter

  • Start your year off right by confirming with your school counselor that you are on the right track for college admission.  Are you on track with graduation requirements?  Are you enrolled in the most challenging courses for which you are qualified?
  • Work hard in all your courses – junior year grades are extremely important in the college admissions process, as is the rigor of your coursework.
  • Stay involved in extracurricular activities.
  • Sign up for the PSAT in October. Taking the test as a junior will qualify you for National Merit Scholarship consideration and identify you to colleges as a potential applicant.  When you receive the results (early December), review them to learn more about your areas of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Begin to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT. Research free resources on the internet (such as Khan Academy), test prep books (for example, “Cracking the SAT”), and fee-based programs (like Princeton Review, Kaplan).
  • Research the differences between the ACT and the SAT. ( Check the ACT vs. SAT link for differences between both tests.) Schools will accept either and/or both tests.  You may want to consider taking both tests and see which one yields a better score.
  • Research test dates for the ACT and SAT. You’ll need to register up to six weeks ahead of time. You should plan on taking at least one of these tests in the spring and again next fall of your senior year.  Find test dates and registration information at www.collegeboard.com (for the SAT) and www.actstudent.org (for the ACT).
  • Ask your counselor if you should take an SAT Subject Test. If so, you should take these tests as soon as possible after taking the highest level course in these subjects, for example, Physics, Chemistry, AP US History.
  • Attend the PCS Christian College Fair in October.
  • Continue to utilize Naviance to research colleges.

 Spring/Summer

  • Register for the PCS College Tour held in March.
  • Write the Reaction Paper requirement (due in April) for your Graduation Project. (See link on Graduation Project.)
  • Continue to achieve the best grades possible.
  • Shadow and interview someone in a career you are considering as part of the PCS Graduation Project. Research careers, job outlook and average salaries on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (www.bls.gov).
  • Begin planning college visits on your own. Try to visit a large, medium size, and small campus as well as both city and rural settings to get a feel for the right fit for you.
  • Develop a preliminary list of colleges that interest you. Explore them on Naviance.  Call or email requests colleges for more information.
  • Think about your summer plans: consider volunteering, a job, internship or academic program
  • Begin thinking about college applications. Generally, colleges will have their applications available online by the beginning of August. Start working on your essays before you return to school.
  • Between junior and senior year, complete the Senior Biography as required by the guidance department.  The Senior Biography must be completed before teacher and counselor recommendations for college applications are written. (See link on Senior Biography.)

 12th grade

  • Choose your senior year courses carefully!  The rigor of your senior year schedule is very important in the college admission process.
  • Turn in your Senior Biography to the guidance office. Your Senior Biography must be completed before any teacher/counselor recommendations will be written for college admissions. (See link on Senior Biography in Resources.)
  • Have your parent or guardian complete and sign the Parental Transcript Release Form. (See link on Parent Transcript Form in Resources.)
  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT if you didn’t take it as a junior, or if you aren’t satisfied with your score and want to take it again. The September/October test date is the last deadline for most early action and early decision college applications. The January test date is the last deadline for most regular decision college applications.
  • Review college applications and consider all of the different pieces of information you will need to compile and submit.
  • Continue to research and visit colleges.
  • Narrow down your list of colleges.  Be sure your list includes “safe,” “reach,” and “match” schools. (See link on Match, Reach, and Safety Schools for definitions of each.)
  • Explore application options for each school and decide if you will apply early decision, early action, or regular decision.  (See link on College Applications for more information.) Make note of all deadlines.
  • Finalize any college essays required. Many colleges require that you submit at least one essay with your application. Ask a friend, family member or teacher for feedback on your essay (s).
  • Request recommendations from teachers, pastors, counselors or employers.  Make sure to give them at least two weeks notice before the deadline.
  • Request a copy of your transcript through Naviance and in an email to your school counselor.  This should be done only after completing your application.
  • Notify testing companies to send your scores directly to the colleges to which you are applying (if you didn’t already designated these schools when registering for the tests.)
  • The FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) will be available in November, but cannot be completed before January 1. This is the form you will complete to find out which financial aid you are eligible to receive from the government. The deadline for filing is February 1. (See link on FAFSA in Resources for more information.)
  • Don’t slack in the classroom while waiting for admissions decisions; colleges will want a copy of your final transcript. No Senioritis Allowed!
  • Present your career exploration experience as part of the Senior Symposium portion of the Graduation Project requirement. (See link on Graduation Project.)
  • May 1 is the date when the college you plan to attend requires a commitment and deposit. When you’ve made your decision, notify the college and your counselor.
  • Make sure you request through Naviance to have your final transcript be sent to the school you will be attending.
  • Complete Senior Survey before graduation on Naviance!
  • If you’ve been “wait listed” by a college you really want to attend, contact the college admissions office to make your interest clear and ask how you can strengthen your application.