College Guidance

The College board recommends the following "ACTION PLAN" for high school students who are seeking admission to a four year college. The College board's "Action Plan" is presented in four sections, one for each year in high school. Students and parents are encourage to read through the recommended plans and call the WHS counseling office with individual questions. Much more help for college-bound students can be found on the College board's web site, including a college search service and practice tests for SAT. Please visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student

Action Plan: High School Freshmen

Fall
Plan for the Year Ahead
  • Meet with your counselor to discuss your college plans. Review your schedule to make sure you're enrolled in challenging classes that will help you prepare for college. Colleges prefer four years of English, as well as history, math, science and a foreign language.
  • Use College Search to find out the required courses and tests for colleges that you might be interested in attending.
  • Start a calendar with important dates and deadlines.
  • Get involved with extracurricular activities.
  • Go to college fairs in your area.
Winter
Learn about Colleges
  • Learn about college costs and how financial aid works.
  • Use the College Savings Calculator to see how much money you'll need for college, whether you're on track to save enough, and what you need to do to reach your goal. Talk to your family about college financing.
  • Visit colleges while they're in session.
  • Find out about college firsthand from friends who are home for the holidays.
Prepare for Tests
  • Talk to your counselor and teachers about taking SAT Subject Tests TM in your strong subjects this spring. Take Subject Tests such as World History, Biology E/M and Chemistry while the material is still fresh in your mind.
Spring
Stay Focused
  • Sign up for college preparatory courses for next year.
Explore Summer Opportunities
  • Look for a great summer opportunity - job, internship or volunteer position.
  • Check with your counselor and search online for summer learning programs.
Summer
Make the Most of Your Break
  • Start a summer reading list. Ask your teachers to recommend books.
  • Plan to visit college campuses to get a feel for your options. Start with colleges near you.
  • Finalize your summer plans.

Action Plan: High School Sophomores

Fall
Plan for the Year Ahead
  • Meet with your counselor to discuss your college plans. Review your schedule to make sure you're enrolled in challenging classes that will help you prepare for college. Colleges prefer four years of English, as well as history, math, science and a foreign language.
  • Use College Search to find out the required courses and tests for colleges that you might be interested in attending.
  • Start a calendar with important dates and deadlines.
  • Get involved with extracurricular activities.
  • Go to college fairs in your area.
Consider Taking the PSAT/NMSQT
  • Sign up for the PSAT/NMSQT, which is given in October. Ask your counselor for the date. Get free online PSAT/NMSQT practice.
  • If you're taking the PSAT/NMSQT, sign up for Student Search Service to learn about colleges and scholarships.
Winter
Prepare for Tests
  • Use the access code on your PSAT/NMSQT score report to sign in to My College QuickStart. With this personalized planning kit, you can prepare for the SAT using a study plan based on your PSAT/NMSQT results and explore lists of suggested colleges, majors and careers.
  • Talk to your counselor and teachers about taking SAT Subject Tests in your strong subjects this spring. Take Subject Tests such as World History, Biology E/M and Chemistry while the material is still fresh in your mind.
Learn about Colleges
  • Learn about college costs and how financial aid works.
  • Use the College Savings Calculator to see how much money you'll need for college, whether you're on track to save enough, and what you need to do to reach your goal. Talk to your family about college financing.
  • Visit colleges while they're in session.
  • Find out about college firsthand from friends who are home for the holidays.
Spring
Stay Focused
  • Sign up for college preparatory courses for next year.
Explore Summer Opportunities
  • Look for a great summer opportunity - job, internship or volunteer position.
  • Check with your counselor and search online for summer learning programs.
Summer
Make the Most of Your Break
  • Start a summer reading list. As your teachers to recommend books.
  • Plan to visit college campuses to get a feel for your options. Start with colleges near you.
  • Finalize your summer plans.

Action Plan: High School Juniors

Fall
Take the PSAT/NMSQT
  • At school, sign up early to take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. Get PSAT/NMSQT tips and a free practice test. When taking the PSAT/NMSQT, sign up for Student Search Service to hear from colleges and scholarship programs.
Start Your College Search
  • Start with you: Make lists of your abilities, preferences and personal qualities. List things you may want to study and do in college.
  • Jump-start your college planning by reading about majors and careers.
  • Use College Search to find colleges with the right characteristics.
Begin Thinking about Financial Aid
  • Talk to your counselor about your college plans. Attend college night and financial aid night at your school. Use financial aid calculators to estimate your aid eligibility and college costs.
Winter
Schedule Your Spring Testing
  • You can take either the SAT or up to three SAT Subject Tests on one test day. Plan your testing schedule carefully if you want to take both, and register for two separate test dates. See the SAT schedule of test dates and register online for the SAT.
  • Use the access code on your PSAT/NMSQT score report to sign in to My College QuickStart. With this personalized planning kit, you can prepare for the SAT using a study plan based on your PSAT/NMSQT results and explore lists of suggested colleges, majors and careers.
Spring
Get Ready for the SAT
  • Prepare for the SAT by taking a free full-length official practice test. Then get a score and skills report. Learn which skills you need to improve. Be sure to sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day for daily practice.
Explore Colleges
  • Start visiting local colleges: large, small, public and private. Get a feel for what works for you. Develop an initial list of 15-20 colleges that interest you. You can narrow it down later. Search for colleges and use My College List.
Prepare for AP Exams
  • Do well on AP Exams and receive credit, advanced placement or both at most colleges for qualifying scores. Prepare for AP Exams.

 

Plan Ahead for the Summer & Senior Year
  • Review your senior year class schedule with your counselor. Challenge yourself with honors and AP classes. Read about how to select your courses.
  • Plan summer activities early. Enrich yourself by volunteering, getting an interesting job or internship, or signing up for special summer learning programs.

 

Summer
Keep Up Your Momentum
  • Visit colleges. Take campus tours and, at colleges you're serious about, schedule interviews with admission officers. Be sure to bring your campus visit checklist.
  • Request applications from the colleges you're planning to apply to. Check important dates; some colleges have early dates or rolling admission. Consult the College Application Calendar and the Financial Aid Calendar for a basic idea of the applications timeline.

Action Plan: High School Seniors

Fall
Pull Your Applications Together
  • Narrow your list of colleges to approximately five to eight, and review it with your counselor. Get an application and financial aid info from each. Visit as many as possible.
  • Make a master calendar and note:
    • Test dates, fees and deadlines
    • College application due dates
    • Required financial aid applications and their deadlines
    • Recommendations, transcripts and other necessary materials
    • Your high school's deadlines for application requests, such as your transcript
  • Ask for recommendations. Give each person your resume, a stamped and addressed envelope, and any required forms.
  • Write application essays and ask teachers, family members and friends to read first drafts.

 

 

Decide Whether to Apply Early Action or Early Decision
  • November 1: For early admission, colleges may require test scores and applications in early November. Send your SAT scores.
  • Ask if your college offers an early estimate of financial aid eligibility.

 

 

Get Financial Aid Info
  • Attend financial aid info events in your area.
  • Talk to your counselor about CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and learn about completing the PROFILE.
  • Use Scholarship Search, review scholarship books, and ask your counselor about local and state funding sources.

 

Winter

 

Review Application Details
  • Most regular applications are due between January 1 and February 15. Keep copies of everything you send to colleges.
  • Have your high school send your transcript to colleges.
  • Contact colleges to make sure they've received all application materials.

 

 

Apply for Financial Aid
  • You and your family should save this year's pay stubs to estimate income on aid forms that you'll file early next year.
  • Submit your FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. Men who are 18 years of age or older must register with Selective Service to receive federal financial aid.
  • Many priority financial aid deadlines fall in February. To get the most attractive award package, apply by the priority date. Keep copies of everything you send.
Spring
Review Acceptance Letters
  • You should get acceptance letters and financial aid offers by mid-April.
  • Use Compare Your Aid Awards to compare awards from different colleges. Talk to financial aid officers at your college if you have questions about the award offered.
  • If you haven't already, visit your final college before accepting.

 

 

Make Your Final Choice by May 1
  • You must tell every college of your acceptance or rejection of offers of admission or financial aid by May 1. Send a deposit to the college you choose.
  • Wait-listed? If you will enroll if accepted, tell the admission officer your intent and ask how to strengthen your application. Need financial aid? Ask if funds will be available if you're accepted.

 

Summer
Take the Next Steps
  • Ask your high school to send a final transcript to your college.
  • Start preparing for the year ahead.