• Meet with your school counselor to make sure you are taking courses that will make you eligible as well as competitive for the colleges you are planning to attend.
• Push yourself to get the best grades possible this year. The payoff will be more colleges to choose from and a better chance for merit based scholarships.
• Pick up the Official Student Guide to PSAT/MNSQT from your high school’s guidance office and take the practice test.
• Find out if your school or county will have a college night (college fair).
• Attend a college fair.
• Begin looking through college guide books in your guidance counselor’s office. Start a preliminary list of colleges that might interest you.
• Start to learn about financial aid. Use the College Board website to learn how it works, and the financial aid calculator to estimate how much aid you might receive.
• Begin to research scholarships
• If you are planning to major in the arts in college (drama, music, fine art) ask your teachers and guidance counselor about requirements for a portfolio or audition.
• Spend time over the holiday making a list of what kind of college you want to attend. Big or small? Far away or close to home? Make a list of the college features that are important to you.
• Meet with your guidance counselor to talk about the colleges in which you are interested, what entrance exam you should take, and when to take them.
• If English is not your primary language, decide when to take the TOEFL test.
• Start thinking about what you want to study in college. Use resources such as your guidance counselor, teachers and family members.
• Think about which teachers you will ask to write letters of recommendation.
• If you are in Advanced Placement Programs (AP) courses, register for AP exams that will be given in May.
• Narrow your list of colleges to a reasonable number. Explore the colleges Web sites, read the brochures and catalogues.
• Plan courses for your senior year. Make sure you are going to meet the high school course requirements for your top-choice colleges.
• Plan campus visits. It may be best to visit a college campus when classes are in session.
Keep in mind that you do not have to do these steps in the order they are listed. The important thing is that you do them in a timely manner.