9th Grade
  • Explore clubs & activities – Saturday morning test – what are you passionate enough about that you would get up to work on it on a Saturday morning?
  • Track activities/approximate time per week, and awards (put awards in a folder)
  • Get to know your teachers & counselors
  • Choose rigorous courses for 10th grade and keep grades up
  • Preliminary college list ~40 schools that meet fit categories
  • Values exercise https://www.collegeessayguy.com/blog/the-values-exercise
  • Interest inventories (good to do once a year to track changes):
  • PARENTS: Do Net Price Calculator w/ teens – talk about budget for college
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10th Grade
  • Interest inventories including career assessment to think about college major
  • Deepen involvement with or explore new clubs and activities.
  • Keep track of activities/time spent per week and awards
  • Develop teacher relationships and meet with your counselor
  • Take PSAT or PACT if offered
  • Keep grades up and select classes for 11th grade, increase rigor
  • Start planning summer, internships (selective), jobs, volunteering
  • Take mock SAT/ACT to select which test. Test Prep tutoring over summer if needed
  • Narrow college list ~30
  • Visit nearby college campuses
  • PARENTS: Jan 1st of sophomore year begins the base year on which financial aid calculations for freshman year will be based. Arrange finances strategically.
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11th Grade

In 11th grade the college list is finalized into safety, target and reach schools. Students deepen their impact in extracurricular activities in meaningful ways in addition to taking on leadership positions (e.g., winning local or regional awards, publishing a paper, raising funds for charity). The summer after 11th grade is the student’s best chance to demonstrate excellence in a field of interest such as an internship, a deep volunteer experience, starting their own company, or working a meaningful job. Often these experiences require in-depth applications and I can help with that process. Some students might want to begin test prep the summer before junior year.

  • Keep Grades up & fill in activity/awards log. Plan courses for senior year
  • Choose teachers to write recommendation letters and speak to them. Best to choose teachers from junior year classes and/or in charge of your extracurriculars
  • Possible SAT/ACT in fall. Take PSAT – entered into National Merit if qualify
  • Make a study plan for IB exams or May AP exams: goal to get 4s and 5s. Get accommodations if needed
  • Attend college fairs/rep visits to area. Spring Break College Campus tour
  • SAT/ACT in Spring and/or Summer. Fall of Senior year last time to take test. Should only take a maximum of three tests. Get tutoring summer before senior year if necessary.

Apply for summer internships/jobs

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12th Grade

The summer before senior year is a good time for test prep if needed. By August 1st, the application process begins, and families need to decide if their student is applying Early Decision (ED), Restrictive Early Action, or Early Action. The time period between Spring of Junior year and January of Senior year is the most time intensive period of the college application process and about two-thirds of the total time spent. This is when essays and applications are written, and tests are taken, and acceptances are considered.

  • Start writing personal statement and supplemental essays in August
  • Schedule Interviews
  • Take SAT/ACT in Fall if need to
  • Attend college fairs, college events, admission rep visits or virtual meetings
  • Follow up with teachers writing letters, make sure they’re aware of deadlines
  • Choose whether or not to apply Direct to Major and if so, which majors
  • Submit college applications. ED and EA applications are due 11/1 or 11/15.
  • ED 2 & regular applications are due in early to mid-January.
  • Apply for scholarships (local is best)
  • PARENTS: Complete and submit financial aid applications. The forms become available on October 1st and may be due as early as November 1st.
  • Research if/how colleges require SAT/ACT scores delivered to them, send
  • Follow up on transcript and teacher/counselor letter submissions
  • If admitted Early Decision, withdraw from other schools
  • Decisions come in. If you need financial aid, wait to accept until all financial aid packages are in. Appeal if necessary. If you are waitlisted at a favorite college, write a letter of appeal including recent achievements.