My Blueprints Portfolio:
High School Timeline for Success
Preparing step-by-step for life after high school: Use this timeline to help you make sure you’re accomplishing everything you need to, when you need to.
- Meet with your counselor to review the courses you’ve taken and see what you still need to take.
- Check your class rank. Even if your grades haven’t been that good so far, it’s never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend.
- Sign up for and take the PSAT/NMSQT. This test will qualify you for National Merit Scholarships and the National Scholarship Service and National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program.
- Make sure that you have a social security number.
- Speak to college representatives who visit your high school.
- Take a long, hard look at why you want to continue your education after high school so that you will be able to choose the best college for your needs.
- Make a list of colleges that meet your most important criteria (size, location, distance from home, majors, academic rigor, housing, and cost). Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you.
- Continue visiting college fairs. You may be able to narrow your choices or add a college to your list.
- If you want to participate in Division I or Division II sports in college, start the certification process. Check with your counselor to make sure you are taking the core curriculum that meets NCAA requirements.
- If you are interested in one of the military academies, talk to your guidance counselor about starting the application process now.
- Collect information about college application procedures, entrance requirements, tuition and fees, room and board costs, student activities, course offerings, faculty composition, accreditation, and financial aid. Use the Internet to visit college websites and begin comparing the schools by the factors you consider most important.
- Discuss your PSAT score with your counselor.
- Begin narrowing down your college choices. Find out if the colleges you are interested in require the ACT, SAT I, and/or SAT II Subject Tests for admission.
- Register for the ACT in April or June. You can take it again in the fall of your senior year if you want to improve your score.
- Begin preparing for the tests you have decided to take.
- Have a discussion with your parents about the colleges in which you are interested. Examine financial resources and gather information about financial aid.
- Set up a filing system with individual folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials.
- Meet with your counselor to review senior-year course selection and graduation requirements.
- Discuss ACT/SAT I scores with your counselor. Register to take the ACT/SAT I again if you would like to try to improve your score.
- Discuss college essays with your guidance counselor or English teacher.
- Stay involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in activities.
- Consider whom you will ask to write your recommendations. Think about asking teachers who know you well and who will write positive letters about you. Letters from a coach, activity leader, or an adult who knows you well outside of school (e.g. volunteer work contact) are also valuable.
- Inquire about personal interviews at your favorite colleges. Call or write for early summer appointments. Make necessary travel arrangements.
- See your counselor to apply for on-campus summer programs for high schools students. Apply for a summer job or internship. Be prepared to pay college application fees and testing fees in the fall.
- Visit the campuses of your top-five college choices.
- After each college interview, send a thank-you letter to the interviewer.
- Talk to people you know who have attended the colleges in which you are interested.
- Continue to read books, magazines, and newspapers.
- Practice filling our college applications and then complete the final application forms or apply online through the websites of the colleges in which you are interested.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Compose rough drafts of your college essays. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you. Proofread them and prepare final drafts. Be sure to PROOFREAD your final essays.
- Develop a financial aid application plan, including a list of aid sources, requirements for each application, and a timetable for meeting the filing deadlines.