The school counselors begin putting college and the college process on students’ radar as early as freshman year. During the early years of high school this is done through reminders of the importance of maintaining a solid academic record and good relationships with teachers, encouraging students to get involved in extracurricular activities, and taking the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT/NMSQT. By junior year however, students are fully immersed in the process beginning with their final PSAT/NMSQT in the fall and continuing with research and education about the application process in the spring. Students return as seniors, jumping right into filling out their applications. Each step of the way, counselors work closely with students and their families, getting students ready to take the next major step in their academic careers.
College Process Timeline
Below is an outline of the basic tasks accomplished each year towards the college process:
- Administration of PSAT 8/9 in October
- Take school work seriously!
- Do homework
- Study for exams
- Meet with teachers for extra help
- Join clubs, sports teams, do volunteer work—get involved!
- Administration of PSAT/NMSQT in October
- Keep working on the academic foundation set during freshman year; this could mean continuing to do well academically or improving low scores and effort
- Stay involved! Now is the time to find out what you really enjoy and stick with it.
- Begin researching potential college majors and careers
- This is the most important time for you to show a college what you can do academically, as these are the last set of grades listed on your record before sending all applications.
- Keep building your extracurricular “resume”—take on leadership positions within clubs or sports teams, get a job or volunteer. Everything counts!
- October: administration of PSAT/NMSQT
- February: classroom presentations by counselors about college research, standardized testing, and the application process, and students will begin working on their college essays with their English teachers
- March: parents can schedule an individual family meeting to discuss the college process with their son’s counselor
- Review the SAT and ACT testing schedules for this spring. Sign up to take at least one test and come up with a study plan (on your own, take a course, get a private tutor, or a combination)
- Research and visit: use resources to research, evaluate, and draft a college list. Schedule visits, talk to current college students, etc. Take advantage of school breaks and the two excused college visit absences you are eligible for.
- By September, students should have a list of 6-9 colleges to apply to by December 1st. Make sure the list is realistic for you based on your test scores and GPA
- Use the early fall to fill out your applications and write any supplemental essays; all Salesian students submit their applications by December 1st
- Register for and take additional standardized tests if necessary (December is the last realistic testing date for seniors)
- Families should begin filling out the FAFSA (financial aid application) at home, beginning October 1st, to be submitted, ideally, with the college applications
- Keep track of all paperwork or requests from colleges. Students will need all acceptance and financial aid letters handy as they decide where to attend
- Re-visit any colleges you are seriously considering attending—do not deposit at a school without ever having been there
- Pay the enrollment deposit at the school of your choice by the national deadline: May 1st
- Keep your grades, attendance and behavior up all year! Colleges can rescind an acceptance at any point, for poor performance in any of these areas.