• Meet with your counselor to discuss your schedule. You should take the most challenging academic program available and work really hard to get good grades.
  • Check your class rank and set goals for the year. Colleges like to see improvement so if your grades have slipped lately, it’s not too late to improve. 
  • Demonstrate leadership and responsibility in school or in the community—extracurricular activities can be a deciding factor in acceptance at a college that is on the fence about you.
  • Determine your most important college criteria (size, location, distance from home, majors, academic rigor, athletic programs, housing and cost) and weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you.
  • Begin a list of colleges that meet your requirements and contact all of them for information. You may be surprised at how many have already contacted you!
  • Review college websites and begin comparing the schools by the factors that you consider to be most important.
  • Gather career information - job shadow or participate in a career day so you have a better understanding of what the job actually entails.


  • Discuss your PSAT score and testing plan with your counselor. 
  • Find out what tests are required by the colleges on your list.
  • Register and prepare for any tests you’ve decided to take.
  • Talk with college reps that come to your school and attend evening information sessions that occur in your area.
  • Continue to go to college fairs and use that opportunity to learn more about your interests. 
  • Make college visits (either in person or online) to test out ideas of what is important to you. 
  • Begin to consider which teachers or employers you might use for recommendations.
  • Make the most out of your part-time job and begin constructing a resume.
  • Have a discussion with your parents about the colleges in which you are interested. Examine financial resources and gather information about financial aid. Check out free scholarship searches online.
  • Set up a filing system with individual folders for each potential college’s correspondence and printed materials.


  • Meet with your counselor to review senior-year course selection and graduation requirements.
  • Continue to request information from colleges and weed out any that no longer interest you.
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT when offered.
  • Plan a road trip to visit colleges outside of your area during spring break, especially if you’re considering a location that’s far away from home.
  • Arrange to meet with college financial aid representatives at the colleges you are interested in. 
  • Attend college fairs in order to narrow your choices or add a college to your list that you hadn’t considered before.
  • Attend Open Houses at the colleges on your list. 
  • If you want to participate in a Division I or Division II sport in college, start the certification process. Check with your counselor to make sure you are taking a core curriculum that meets NCAA requirements and get the NCAA Guide. If Division III is more realistic, talk to your counselor about which colleges offer your sport and meet your other requirements. In either case, visit the campus and talk to the coaches to learn more about the programs.
  • Begin to think about whom to ask for recommendations. Consider asking teachers who know you well and who will write positive letters about you. Letters from a coach, activity leader or an adult who knows you outside of school (e.g.,a volunteer or work contact) are also valuable.
  • Make sure that you have a social security number. If you don’t, fill out the paperwork as you’ll need one very soon.
  • Look for summer job opportunities and finalize plans for summer school, volunteering, internships…
  • Research scholarship opportunities and keep track of deadlines. Many private scholarships are determined during the junior year of high school so don’t miss out on these chances.  
  • Continue discussing college finances with parents/guardians and keep them in the loop of your progress.


  • Take/retake standardized tests in order to improve your scores and test-taking skills.
  • Plan a college visit tour of your top choices with your parents.  Contact each school in advance to inquire about personal interviews and to schedule appointments. 
  • Immediately make notes of what you learned on each visit (if you wait, they’ll all blend together) and send a thank you letter to the interviewer.  
  • Practice filling out college applications by downloading them from the web sites of colleges you’re interested in.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Talk to people you know who have attended the colleges in which you are interested in. You’ll get a first-hand opinion of the school and they might even volunteer to provide a letter of recommendation on your behalf.  Alumni recommendations carry weight so don’t discount these opportunities.
  • Compose rough drafts of your college essays. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you.
  • Develop a financial aid application plan, including a list of the aid sources, requirements for each application and a timetable for meeting the filing deadlines.
  • Request private scholarship applications.
  • Update your resume to reflect your summer job experience.

Go here to learn what you should be doing as a senior.