• Establish an academic mindset. Your GPA and class rank at the end of this year will be considered by colleges.
• Get to know your teachers. You will likely want to ask some to write college recommendation letters for you.
• Meet with your school guidance counselor to review courses for junior and senior years, grades, graduation requirements, and class rank. Make sure you meet all requirements for graduation and have all the credits needed for the colleges on your list.
• Check with your counselor about registering to take the PSAT/NMSQT, the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships, National Scholarship Service, and National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program.
• Get involved in extracurricular activities and volunteer work.
• Work on and improve your study and time management skills.
• If a particular college major or field of study interests you, take related electives, if offered.
• Start saving samples of your best work in a portfolio.
• Prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT by taking a practice test. Find out more at: www.collegeboard.org.
• Investigate colleges that interest you. Use the Locator Map, Campus Profiles and Academic Programs search on this web site to help identify colleges and universities that meet your academic and geographic interests.
• Attend local college fairs and meet with college representatives who visit your school.
• Request view books and information from colleges. Visit college web sites. Preview college applications, such as the Common Application accepted by more than 450 colleges and universities at www.commonapp.org.
• Sharpen your writing skills - work with your teachers to hone your writing skills; attend workshops or clinics if offered at your high school.
• Continue to explore colleges and attend college fairs.
• Assess study skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Continue to read widely, take practice tests, and work on writing essays.
• Research college majors and your career interests. Talk to people who work in your fields of interest, teachers, counselors, and college professors. A good place to explore careers is http://careerzone.ny.gov.
• Consider interning in a field that interests you.
• If interested in sports, check NCAA registration requirements at www.ncaa.org.
• Begin researching financial aid, including options for grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Learn about New York State grants at www.hesc.ny.gov and about federal grants at studentaid.ed.gov.
• Examine applications and literature you receive from the colleges.
• Know what is required when you apply – types of tests, interview, personal essay, recommendations from teachers, mentors, or employers.
• If you are taking standardized tests, prepare by taking practice tests.
• Begin to narrow down your college choices. Set up a filing system with individual folders for each college’s print and electronic correspondence and materials.
• Make a preliminary list of colleges you would like to investigate using the Internet, your school’s guidance office, or the library.
• Consult with teachers, counselors, and others about your college plans. Start asking for recommendation letters.
• Review your academic progress with your counselor: course work, grades, and test scores.
• Investigate sources of financial aid. Visit your high school’s counseling center, your public library or use our online resource at www.nycolleges.org/pay-college. Other great resources are studentaid.ed.gov and www.hesc.ny.gov.
• Ask about available financial aid from employers, religious groups, community groups, and service organizations.
• Begin thinking about a summer job, internship, or on-campus college summer program.
• Work on test skills with practice SAT tests.
• Writing is important – work on it. Write admission application essay drafts and go over them with a teacher or other adult whose judgment you trust.
• Register for and take the SAT Subject Tests you need for your applications. Talk to your school counselor about which tests to take. Find out test schedules at: http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/sat-dates.
• Visit colleges to feel the “fit” and narrow down your list while being open to considering a college you might not have thought of earlier.
• Ask about personal interviews at your college choices, and call or write for appointments.
• Request admission literature, application forms, and financial aid information from colleges.
• Stay involved in extracurricular and volunteer activities.
• Prepare for SAT or ACT tests with practice tests and study.
• Before taking any test, get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast on the morning of the test. Have your admission ticket, know where you’re going, and how long it will take to get to the test site.
• Prepare for your final exams.
• Discuss with teachers and counselors about what you can do during summer to prepare for senior year.
• Decide on and prepare for summer activities – jobs, internships, and on-campus summer college programs.
• Plan college tours and visits.
• Review your senior year courses with your counselor. Be sure you are on track to graduate. Consider challenging yourself with honors and AP courses if available. Colleges look very carefully at the level of difficulty of the courses you take in high school.
• Organize all your important coursework, honors, activities, certificates, and letters of achievement or recognition.
• Visit colleges in person if possible, or online. Talk to people who have gone to the colleges that interest you. Involve your family in your college application process.
• Compose rough drafts of your college essay.
• Develop a financial aid application plan, including a list of aid sources, requirements for each application, and a timetable. Search for scholarships at sites such as: www.hesc.ny.gov, www.fastweb.com; and www.finaid.org.