Suggested Timeline Chart for
Transition from High School to College
Year of High School
||Meet with your school counselor and review your courses and plan for
your senior year. Ask about the PSAT/NMSQT test date, time, and place.
Begin investigating private sources of financial aid. There are several
free online scholarship search services listed in the Resource section.
||Take the PSAT/NMSQT to prepare for the SAT I and II, and to be eligible
for the National Merit Scholarship competition (scores from your sophomore
year will not count in the competition).
||Start doing research on government, as well as private, financial aid
||Receive the results of the PSAT/NMSQT. Read your score report
and consult your school counselor or teachers to determine how you might
improve. Sign up for the February ACT.
||Begin to make a list of colleges you would like to explore. Show
the list to your parents and discuss their ideas and preferences about
the kind of college you should attend. Apply for a social security
number if you don't have one. It is required on many college applications.
||Meet with your school counselor to begin preparing a list of colleges
to explore. Sign up for the SAT I. Begin to prepare for the
SAT I or ACT.
||Send letters or e-mails to the colleges on your list requesting information,
and evaluate the materials they send you. Share the materials with
your parents. Take the SAT I. Continue your research on private
scholarships by finding out what awards students in your school and community
Plan visits to colleges during your spring break holiday so you'll be
on campus when classes are in session. Be sure to call the admissions
office before you visit a campus. The admissions staff will schedule
you for a campus tour and arrange an interview, if necessary. Many
colleges have special programs for visiting high school students.
If possible, schedule an appointment with a financial aid counselor to
learn more about the college's financial aid opportunities. Be sure
to bring your parents - their opinion is very important and they can gain
very valuable information by talking with a financial aid counselor.
||Sign up for the May/June SAT I and/or SAT II: Subject Tests.
Take the ACT. Look into summer jobs or internships. Continue
to evaluate colleges and begin to eliminate some choices from your list.
||Attend college fairs and sessions with college representatives at your
school to get more information. Be sure to ask questions about financial
aid, as well as the academic program, student life, etc. Take the
SAT II: Subject Tests. Take Advanced Placement exams, if appropriate.
Consider enrolling in an academic course at a local college, pursuing
a summer school program, or working as a volunteer — make wise use of your
summer. If you work over the summer, put aside some of the money
||Take the ACT.
|JULY / AUGUST
||Write for private scholarship applications. Polish your resume
and if the schools or scholarships you are interested in require them,
begin to assemble writing samples, portfolios, or audition tapes.
Now is also a great time to begin work on college application essays.
If you are interested in an athletic scholarship, contact the coaches at
the colleges to which you plan to apply.
Year of High School
||Meet with your counselor to review your college plans and evaluate
them in light of your test scores and junior year grades. It's a
good idea to involve your parents in this meeting and to discuss your prospects
for financial aid at this time.
If you have not already taken the necessary test, or you and your counselor
have agreed that you should take it again to try to improve your score,
sign up for the October/November SAT I and/or SAT II: Subject Tests.
Write to the colleges on your list and request admissions, financial
aid, and, if appropriate, housing applications. Keep a checklist
with all the admissions and financial aid deadlines for the colleges you
are considering. Check with your school to make sure your transcripts
and other records are up to date and accurate. Ask teachers, employers,
or coaches to write you letters of recommendations. Give them any
forms that colleges require and follow up to make sure the letters are
mailed on time.
Pick up a copy of the CSS Profile Registration Guide from your high
school guidance office to see if any of the colleges on your list require
this financial aid application form. If so, register for the Profile
||Attend a regional college fair to further investigate the college on
your list. Make sure that your transcript and test scores have been
sent. Set aside plenty of time to draft, edit, and re-write application
essays. Be sure to give your parents enough time to help you fill
out any college financial aid forms, such as the CSS Profile. If
applying for "early decision," send in your application now. Sign
up for December/January tests, if necessary. Begin to send in applications;
be sure to keep copies of everything you send, with the date on which it
||Continue to file admissions applications. Obtain the Free Application
for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) from your high school.
You can also file the FAFSA on-line.
||File your last college applications. If you've applied for early
decision, you should have an answer by now.
||Request that your high school send the transcript of your first semester
grades to the colleges to which you've applied.
Work with your parents to complete the FAFSA on or as soon after January
1 as possible. Send it in no later than February 1. If the
financial aid processor requests additional information in order to process
your application, submit it promptly. Check with your high school
to find out if your state student aid program requires an additional application.
||Monitor your applications to make sure that all materials are send
and received on time. Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) for accuracy.
If necessary, correct any inaccurate items on the SAR and return it to
the FAFSA processor (if you had a college transmit your FAFSA data directly,
you must notify the college of any changes or corrections). If you
have not received an SAR four weeks after you file your FAFSA, call 1-800-4FED-AID
to inquire about your application status.
When a corrected SAR is returned to you, review it one more time.
Then, if it is correct, keep a copy for your records. If a college
requests your SAR, submit it promptly. Do this even if the SAR says
you are not eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant, as the college may
be able to offer you other aid based on the information in that report.
If you haven't decided on a favorite campus, try to arrange a second
visit. Talk to students and sit in on some classes so you can make
an informed decision.
||Review your financial aid award letters with your parents; be sure
that you understand the terms and conditions that apply to each type of
Decide on the college that you will attend and send in your tuition
deposit. Notify in writing the other colleges that accepted you that
you have selected another school. This is an important step.
Other students will be hoping to receive your spot! Be sure to respond
by May 1.
If your first choice college places you on its waiting list, do not
lose all hope. Some students are admitted off the waiting list.
Contact the college, let the admissions office know you are still very
interested, and keep the college updated on your activities.
Remind your parents to check their eligibility for the HOPE and Lifetime
Learning tax credits when they file their taxes. Next year, they
may be able to reduce their taxes by up to $1,500 by claiming one of these
credits for college expenses.
||Work with your parents to establish a budget for your books, supplies,
and living expenses. Determine how much of the budget grants and
scholarships will cover, how much your parents will contribute, and how
much your parents will contribute, and how much you will need to supply.
Then determine how much of your contribution will come from savings, from
a student loan, and from what you might earn at an academic year job.
Then, if necessary, complete a loan application form. Be sure you
understand the terms of the loan before you and/or your parents sign a
If you want to live on campus, and have not already done so, complete
a housing/meal plan application.
Take Advanced Placement exams, if appropriate.
||Request that your high school send a copy of your final transcript
to the college you will attend. Notify the college of any private
grants or scholarships you will receive.
Find out when payment for tuition, room, board, etc. will be due and
investigate whether your college offers a tuition payment plan that lets
you remit these charges in installments. Be sure you understand how
financial aid will be disbursed and whether you can defer bill payment
until the funds are available.
Apply for a summer job. Plan on saving a portion of your earnings
Look for information from your new college about housing, orientation,
course selection, etc. If your financial aid package included a Federal
Work-Study award, it may be your responsibility to find an appropriate
job. Plan to follow up with the financial aid office as soon as you
arrive on campus.
||Pack for college and look forward to a great experience!
NOTE: This calendar is based on material from the National Association
for College Admissions Counseling and the National Association of Student
Financial Aid Administrators. The dates in this calendar are approximate.
Be sure you know and adhere to all college deadlines.
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