College Application Timeline

  • There is no single correct way to navigate the college application process - 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 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. 
    • 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. 
    • 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.
    • Get involved!


    Junior Year

    • Focus on your academics. 
    • Attend college fairs and explore colleges on the Internet. 
    • Visit the College and Career Resource Center (CCRC).
    • Identify the factors in colleges that are important to you (size, location, cost, distance from home, programs/majors, rigor, activities, affiliations). 
    • Explore Naviance college searches, i.e College Super Match.
    • Continue to participate in extracurricular activities.
    • Take the ACT! Highland Park offers the ACT free to all Juniors during the second semester.
    • Meet with your counselor!
    • Narrow your focus to the colleges you plan to apply to in the fall and collect the applications. 

    Senior Year

    • Meet with your counselor!
    • Colleges will want to see that you don't fall for the senior slide.
    • Retake the ACT test for the September or October sitting, if you want.
    • Organize your applications. 
    • Request your transcript through Naviance.
    • Contact teachers (and your counselor, if needed) about letters of recommendation. 
    • Complete applications.
    • Apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at
    • If your college(s) requires a mid-year report, request through Naviance.
    • 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).
    • Request final transcript to be sent you your school - your college of choice needs to have confirmation of your graduation status.