College Application Timeline

  • The following timetable will provide you with some general guidelines as you make your way toward college.

    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 beginning with freshman year. Earn the best grades you can, and adjust your schedule if necessary. 
    • Actively develop effective study habits that work for you, reevaluate your study habits and change those that aren't working.
    • Ask questions in class, and meet with the teacher after class/school to get help when needed. 
    • Set specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time sensitive goals and make plans to achieve them.
    • Meet with your counselor - come prepared with questions about graduation requirements, colleges, careers, etc.
    • Watch for careers that might interest you.
    • Get involved by joining activities that interest you!

      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 inSaint Paul).
    • Attend college fairs and explore colleges on the internet.  
    • If you haven't already discovered it, visit the CareerResourceCenter (Room 1031 in the guidance suite).  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.  Como Park hosts the ACT in February, April and June.
    • Meet with your counselor to review remaining graduation requirements as you register for your senior year.
    • Continue to explore colleges and plan visits.
    • Talk to your family about college financing.  It is best to have a 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 in October.
    • If you are male, register for selective service when you turn 18 in order to be eligible for federal financial aid.
    • 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 with your Como Park 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 CRC and on the Counseling website).
    • Complete and mail off applications.
    • Apply for a PIN number for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at

      Senior Year - Second Semester

    • Complete and submit the FAFSA.
    • 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.
    • End your senior year with strong grades (yes, they do check).
    • Complete your final transcript request before you leave - your college of choice needs to have confirmation of your graduation status.