College Application Timeline
There is no single correct way to navigate the college applicationprocess - so take the items on this list as suggestions only. Each student and family will experience the journey in a different way- what is most important is that the you, the student, are actively involved along the way.
Freshman and Sophomore Year
- Your first year in high school is all about academics and understanding yourself as a student. Select classes that are challenging and manageable.
- Colleges will look at your academic record all the way back to freshman year, so focus on earning the best grades you can, and adjust your schedule if you need to.
- Work to actively develop effective study habits that work for you. Continuously reevaluate your study habits and change those that aren't working for you.
- Ask questions in class, and meet with the teacher after class/school to get help when you need it.
- Set goals and make plans to achieve those goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time sensitive.
- Take time to meet with your counselor - schedule an appointment and come prepared with any questions you have about graduation requirements,colleges, careers or anything else that comes to mind.
- Keep an eye out for careers that might interest you - information is everywhere if you look for it: newspapers, teachers, magazines, your parents and relatives, the internet, the list goes on and on...
- Join activities that are tied to your interests: sports, clubs, volunteer opportunities, etc. Get involved!
Junior Year - First Semester
- Continue to focus on your academics. Meet with your counselor to review your transcript, weighted/unweighted GPAs and class rank.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT (this test is free for all juniors in Saint Paul).
- Attend college fairs and explore colleges on the internet. Look at the programs offered, download an application or two to see what they require, visit one of the conveniently located colleges in Saint Paul.
- If you haven't already discovered it, visit the College and Career Resource Center (located in Rm 104). Sign up to visit college representatives and come prepared with questions.
- Begin to identify the factors in colleges that are important to you (size, location, distance from home, cost, programs/majors, rigor, activities, affiliations).
Junior Year - Second Semester
- Continue to participate in extracurricular activities.
- Register to take the ACT or SAT. Register at www.actstudent.org. Visit the CCRC if you are eligible for a fee waiver.
- Meet with your counselor to review your remaining graduation requirements as you register for your senior year.
- Continue to explore colleges through the internet, and plan visits with your family.
- Talk to your family about the finances of colleges. It is best to havea clear understanding of financial resources and financial aid.
- Narrow your focus to the colleges you plan to apply to in the fall and collect the applications. If an essay is required, work on it over the summer (it's easier to do when you don't have any other homework).
Senior Year - First Semester
- Select a senior year of classes that maintains your rigor. Colleges will want to see that you don't fall for the senior slide.
- If you are unhappy with your ACT score, register to retake the test for the October sitting.
- If you are male, register for selective service when you turn 18 in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. Register at www.sss.gov.
- Organize your applications in a folder. Make a list of deadlines and elements (letters of recommendation, essays, writing samples, etc.) required for each.
- Have your ACT or SAT scores sent directly to the colleges if they will not accept the scores from your official high school transcript.
- Contact teachers (and your counselor, if needed) about letters of recommendation. Meet with them to discuss the letters, come prepared with a resume, be clear about your deadlines (give them at least two weeks), and write a thank you note when they are completed.
- Visit any remaining colleges on your list.
- Begin researching scholarships (check the resources in the CCRC and on Naviance).
- Complete and mail off applications.
- Apply for a PIN number for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.pin.ed.gov.
Senior Year - Second Semester
- Complete and submit the FAFSA with your family at www.fafsa.gov. Visit our page on Financial Aid Information to learn more about applying.
- If your college(s) requires a mid-year report, turn in the paperwork and official transcript request to the school counseling office.
- Confirm with all of your colleges that your application files are complete.
- Collect and review acceptance notifications and financial awards with your family. Make your final choice and notify the college by May 1.
- Notify the colleges which you decided not to attend.
- End your senior year with strong grades (yes, they do check).
- Complete your final transcript request in the school counseling office before you leave - your college of choice needs to have confirmation of your graduation status.