STEP 1: July/August
- Begin with a one inch notebook with 21 plastic sleeves or clear pockets. Print the College Portfolio Content index and begin preparing for college.
- Research colleges and narrow your decision to 3 to 5 colleges.
- Schedule college campus tours, if you are able to. Research the application fee amount.
- Complete the College Research Graph to catalog the differences between your desired colleges.
- After reviewing and recording the required federal tests scores for each desired college, sign up for the ACT and/or SAT test(s). Does college accept AP credits? CLEP credits?
- Print the Recommended Great Books for College-Bound Readers.
STEP 2: August
- Print the paper (PDF) format of your desired colleges to review the application requirements. This is important to do before submitting an electronic application. Your deadline for early acceptance applications should be annotated on your College Research Graph.
- Research the “freshmen” limitations and requirements page for each school. Know in advance your housing and financial limitations, the mobility limitations and the walking or transportation distance from campus to local shops and eateries.
STEP 3: September
- Time to create your resume and autobiographical essay. You will need both of these documents completed before seeking Letters of Recommendation from others.
- Your resume should not document any events or activities from middle school; this is a high school resume. Record all past activities and events in past tense, and all present activities in present tense.
- Remember to “check and balance” your desired degree and career goals on all documents. The GPA reflected on your transcript must match the GPA reported on your resume, professionals will notice if they do not match. “Check and balance” is a necessity.
STEP 4: October
- Seek your Letters of Recommendation. Attach your Resume and Autobiographical Essay to your Letter of Recommendation before placing all three in a neatly addressed envelope. Remember, you are asking someone to use their personal time to write this recommendation for you so treat this request with the respect and honor it deserves. If you fail to attach your resume and autobiographical, you are robbing yourself of well-deserved, hard earned accolades. *Be mindful and respectful of other’s time, do not rush them – allow two weeks for your letter to be written. Accept “no” as respectfully as you do “yes”.
- Be very attentive to the Early Admission deadlines – colleges and universities do not make exceptions for these submissions – you are an applicant.
- If you need to take your federal test(s) or specific sections of your test(s) again, sign up for retesting.
STEP 5: November and December
- Again, be attentive to Early Admission Application deadlines.
- Your portfolio has grown (College Research graph, college applications, updated transcript and updated grade report reflecting Quarter One grades, your resume, your autobiographical essay, your Letters of Recommendations, and your federal tests score results). Congratulations, you are half-way to college.
- Replace your grade report grades with an updated transcript in your portfolio and update your GPA on your resume.
- Find scholarships and begin applying now. Remember, simplistic scholarships are being applied for by a multitude of others, but challenging and extensive writing scholarships are less competitive because a lesser amount of students apply for them. If you are not registered with Scholarship.com and Fastweb.com, do so now.
- Create an account on FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You will not be able to complete until after January 1. This electronic application is “financial gold” and must be completed in order for you to be considered for financial aid from the government, and for grants and scholarships from your future college or university. You can download a practice application from fafsa.ed.gov.
- Begin gathering all required information for this application by speaking with your parents/guardians. There are very detailed videos on this website for you to watch.
STEP 6: January
- Organize your information and complete your FAFSA application as soon as possible. Money is dispersed on a “first come, first serve” basis. Print your SAR report and place a copy in your portfolio.
- If needed, apply to take your last SAT or ACT test. It is a proven fact that federal tests taken more than three times result in lower scores.
STEP 7: February
- You should begin receiving college correspondences this month. Congratulations.
- Respond quickly to all requests. The college will send you a request for your second semester transcript. No Senioritis! You are not guaranteed an acceptance.
STEP 8: March
- Acceptance letters and financial aid offers will begin to arrive.
- Review your acceptances, compare financial aid packages, and visit your final choices (college tours are very important). Seek more funding if offers differ – if you do not ask, you will not receive.
- File your correspondences in your portfolio and create your Freshman Needs List.
STEP 9: April
- Research college job listings, scholarships, grants, and work programs.
- Update your resume and prepare your cover letter for employment.
- File copies of your cover letter in your portfolio so you know who to follow up within one week.
- Follow-up all interviews with a gratitude card – want your name to be remembered favorably, correct?
- Mail out your high school announcements and include a copy of your Freshman Needs List in the envelope. Include color pattern(s), UPCs on products, etc. to simplify shopping for others.
- Update your Recommended Reading List.
STEP 10: May
- May 1 – “Seize the Day” – this date is the day most colleges and universities require a commitment and deposit.
- As soon as you make your college decision, notify your admission counselor at your future college and your guidance counselor at high school.
- Send in your deposit by the postmark date of May 1. If you have been offered financial aid, accept the offer and follow the instructions given. Also, notify schools you will not attend of your decision. This is an opportunity to negotiate for more funding, if needed.
- Give your guidance counselor at your high school a copy of your acceptance letter and request that your final transcript be sent to the college or university you will be attending.
- If you are placed on a “wait listed” by a college you really want to attend, visit, call or write the admission office to personally express your interest. Ask what you can do or submit to strengthen your application.
- Research the Freshman List for your future school. Update and email your Freshman Needs List to family and relatives. Your goal is to have these “needs” fulfilled before you attend college.
- Use your inventory list to help you track who gave you what so you send hand-written thank you cards. DO NOT SEND gratitude via email.
STEP 11: June
- Establish a bank account. Most colleges do not do cash transactions so you must have a bank account to receive financial aid, for pay check deposits and to learn how to manage your money, independently.
- Continue to obtain the items needed for college.
STEP 12: July/August
- Coordinate your orientation and move-in date (if relocating).
- Do not forget to check-in with your college admissions advisor throughout the summer.
- Double check your inventory list. Communicate with your future roommate(s) and inquire about appliances (to save money, share microwaves, small refrigerators, etc.).
- Best of luck to you!