College Planning Timeline and Choosing a College
Are you thinking about going to college? Whether the decision has already been made or is still years away, it’s never too early to start planning. This timeline has been designed to help you prepare for college over the course of several years, but please note that you can complete most of the necessary tasks in your junior or senior years of high school if you are just getting started.
If at all possible you should start planning as early as middle school just to make sure that you have enough time to explore your options and take the appropriate classes. This can improve your chances of getting into the college of your choice because you will be a better candidate for having prepared.
ACT and the College Board also offer some guidelines and resources for preparing for college and the college search process. Check out ACT's College Planning Checklist and College Board's Big Future. Another resource is College Navigator from the National Center for Educational Statistics. If you are looking for a specialty program College Lists Wiki News and Information might be a good starting place for your search. Finally you may want to check out College Results Online. This site provides "information about college graduation rates for nearly any four-year college or university in the country."
To the right you can find a general timeline for applying to colleges as well as grade level specific suggestions.
Remember your counselor is here to help or answer any questions that you might have. If we don't know the answer directly, we can definitely help you figure out where to find it! We love to hear about your acceptances and scholarships that you are awarded, so keep us in the loop!
How many colleges should you apply to? The answer is "It depends," but a realistic number might be five or six. Those five or six might include a "reach" school, a couple of schools that are really a good fit and a couple of back up schools.
Here's an article that gives some insight and helps explain the process: 5 Steps to Choose How Many College Applications to Send
Find the Right College as an Average Student - some sound advice for students who want to go to college but may not have those top grades everyone says you need to apply to college.
Wondering how to start your personal essay? Here's a resource from College Board that gives you some ideas and information: The College Essay.
A general guideline for the college application process.
Suggested planning timelines for students and parents by grade level:
More and more colleges and universities are going "test-optional". The FairTest website explains more about that and lists the schools who have done so.
Interested in a Gap Year? Here are some resources to help you find the right program.
Dreamer and DACA students should know that some schools have established guidelines regarding how you are considered in regard to being classified as in-state students for tuition purposes. Please check the university's or college's websites for specific information on each school. A resource for you to check out is Scholarships a-z. They work with Dreamer and DACA students and have a wealth of information for you.