We know that for you, as a student, getting ready for college is just one of a million things on your mind. But it’s also very important. These handy College Prep Checklists can help. We also offer printable versions for students and parents. One for each grade. Download them and pin them up. They’ll help you get on track. And stay there.
- What majors/careers sound exciting? Start thinking about which classes you will need to take in high school to prepare for your college major/career path.
- Read daily. Becoming a critical and engaged reader will prepare you like nothing else for the PSAT/SAT and the many academic challenges ahead.
- Develop strong study habits. Make sure to incorporate study into your schedule as a daily activity.
- Ask questions! About college, careers—anything related to the process that you might need help understanding. Ask your teachers, your parents, your guidance counselor, and any other working adults you might know about their careers and what prepared them for college. The more you talk to other people, the more you will learn and the more you will clarify your thoughts, dreams, and visions for yourself.
- Become involved in school and/or community-based extracurricular activities. Play sports. Learn a musical instrument. Volunteer locally. Don’t stretch your time too thin. Just make sure you learn new things and have new experiences!
- Become aware of the college resources and college counselors available at your school.
- Continue to talk to adults in various professions to determine what they like and dislike about their jobs and what kind of education you need for each type of job.
- Take classes in the core academic subjects. Most colleges require four years of English, at least three years of social studies (history, civics, geography, economics, etc.), three years of mathematics, and three years of science. Many require two years of a foreign language. Round out your course load with classes in computer science and the arts.
- Become involved in school- or community-based extracurricular activities that enable you to explore career interests.
- Continue to clarify your vision for yourself concerning college. What careers/subjects excite you? What kind of school would you see yourself going to?
- Continue to maintain a rigorous and balanced academic course load.
- Continue to be involved in school- or community-based extracurricular activities that enable you to explore career interests.
- Meet with your career or guidance counselor to discuss colleges and their requirements.
- Consider taking a practice exam like the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
- In the spring, begin preliminary college visits and talk to students there.
- Continue to learn about different types of colleges – which of them might be the best fit for you and your overall vision?
- Decide which colleges most interest you. Contact them to request information and an application for admission. Ask about special admissions requirements, financial aid, and deadlines.
- Talk to college representatives at college fairs.
- Visit more colleges and talk to students. Many colleges check applications for “demonstrated interest.” If they’ve logged your visit to the campus, it can give you an edge over students who come.
- Reach out to university representatives and request as much information as you can from the schools that interest you. Again this can help you score points for “demonstrated interest.”
- Consider people to ask for letters of recommendation, such as teachers, counselors, and employers.
- Investigate financial aid availability from federal, state, local, and private sources. Talk to your guidance counselor for more information.
- Investigate the availability of scholarships provided by corporations, labor unions, professional associations, and religious groups.
- Register for and take the PSAT/NMSQT (if you haven’t already), SAT I, SAT II Subject Tests, the ACT, or any other exams required for admission to the colleges you might want to attend.
- Meet with your counselor early in the year to discuss your college plans.
- Complete all necessary financial aid forms, especially the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- Contact colleges to request information and applications for admission. Ask about financial aid, admissions requirements, and deadlines.
- Register for and take the SAT I, SAT II Subject Tests, the ACT, or any other exams required for admission to the colleges to which you apply.
- Prepare your application carefully. Follow the instructions and pay close attention to deadlines.
- Be sure to ask your counselor and teachers at least two weeks before your application deadlines to submit the necessary documents to colleges (your transcript, letters of recommendation, etc.)
Apply for an Alliance Scholarship Program. We’ve awarded millions of dollars to thousands of high school graduates and continuing college students since 1996. This year, we plan to award five deserving students with scholarships. Learn more here.
Don’t forget to download these checklists and keep it in plain sight. And be sure to check out The Alliance College Guide. It explains what you need to know about choosing, preparing for, applying to, and paying for college. All in clear, no-nonsense language.
Don’t forget to download our checklists and start getting your child ready for college.
The Alliance Scholarship Program has awarded more than $2.8 million to thousands of high school graduates and continuing college students since 1996. This year, we plan to award five deserving students with scholarships. Learn more here.