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Checklist for College Planning

You can help your high school student make college and career planning decisions wisely by using our "Checklist for College Planning" to help you understand and guide your teen's planning process.

Beginning Your Teen Should
Freshman and sophomore years Learn about college requirements and explore careers.
  • Know which high school courses satisfy college requirements.
  • Create a four-year high school curriculum plan.
  • Review PLAN® test results.
September–March of junior year Think about reasons for going to college.
  • Talk with parents and a school counselor about career goals and college plans.
  • Try talking with an adult who has an interesting job.
  • Get involved at school and in the community.
January–March of junior year Identify important factors in choosing a college; prepare for a college admission tests.
  • Think about college preferences such as two-year or four-year, location, cost, kind of atmosphere, the variety of study programs available, and entrance test requirements.
  • Locate and consult college guidebooks.
  • Explore colleges on the Internet.
March–August of junior year List possible college choices and collect information about each one; take the appropriate college admission test(s).
  • Attend college fairs and college night programs.
  • Visit colleges.
August–December of senior year Compare college choices.
  • Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each college carefully.
  • Determine which colleges meet his or her needs.
  • Continue visiting colleges.
  • Organize information into detailed, useful comparisons.
September–December of senior year Apply for admission to "choice" colleges.
  • Obtain application forms.
  • Observe deadlines.
  • Submit high school records and test scores (retest if necessary).
January–February of senior year Apply for financial aid.
  • Consult financial aid office.
  • Secure forms and note deadlines.
  • Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1.
November–May of senior year Make some final decisions.
  • Confer with parents and counselors about final decision.
  • Confirm his or her decision, and decline other admission offers.


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