Planning For College

Welcome to the ultimate guide to mastering your college prep journey! We’ve got all the tools and tips you need to make a splash as you dive into the world of higher education. Check out whats in store for You :

Your Freshman Year


September – November:

Schedule a meeting with your counselor to discuss course choices for the year.

Review your schedule to ensure it aligns with your college goals.

Consider enrolling in honors or AP classes to potentially save on college costs.

Explore extracurricular activities.

Begin saving for college.

December – February:

Initiate discussions with friends and family about the college experience and support networks.

Start researching colleges through their websites to find your best fit.

March – May:

Plan next year’s courses and meet with your counselor.

Think about summer plans, such as internships, jobs, volunteer work, or summer programs.

June – August:

Visit colleges in your vicinity to get a sense of the campus and atmosphere.

Expand your reading with books, newspapers, journals, magazines, blogs, and other materials of interest.

Seek additional tips for success.

Your Sophomore Year


September – November:

Meet with your counselor to express your intention to attend college.

Review your class schedule to ensure it aligns with graduation and college admission requirements.

Take challenging courses to experience college-level work and potentially save money.

Engage in extracurricular activities, which colleges consider in admissions.

Attend a local college fair.

Register for the PSAT or Pre ACT with your counselor’s guidance.

December – February:

Discuss the possibility of taking SAT Subject Tests with your guidance counselor and teachers.

Seek additional help from teachers, counselors, or peers if needed.

March – May:

Start planning your schedule for the upcoming year.

Create a list of college readiness questions for your counselor.

Consider summer plans like internships, jobs, volunteer positions, or summer programs.

June – August:

Visit nearby colleges and use a campus tour checklist for a productive visit.

Expand your reading with books, newspapers, journals, magazines, and internet articles.

Save money for college and inquire about a Connecticut Higher Education Trust 529 College Savings Program.

Explore potential careers and reflect on what you’d like to study in college by answering self-assessment questions.

Resources (PSAT/SAT Information and Registration)


Your Junior Year


July – August:

Inform your family, friends, and teachers of your college plans to build a support system.

Initiate college research, exploring various types of colleges through guidance counselor materials, library resources, websites, and discussions.

Reflect on potential careers and fields of study.

Begin researching college financing and financial aid options.

Explore scholarships and grants, which are sources of free money.

September – October:

Register for and participate in the PSAT and/or PLAN tests in October.

Discuss SAT Subject Tests with your counselor and teachers.

Attend college fairs, referring to schedules and tips to maximize your experience.

Create an organized college application file.

Gain a deeper understanding of the college application process.

November – January:

Attend financial aid workshops or seminars.

Estimate your eligibility for federal student aid using the Federal Student Aid Estimator.

Research summer enrichment programs, internships, and jobs for your summer plans.

Explore college websites and request information.

Compile a list of colleges to visit.

February – May:

Decide on the standardized test (SAT/SAT Subject Tests or ACT) and prepare accordingly. ACT Information and Registration PSAT/SAT Information and Registration

Discuss post-high school plans with your family and counselor.

Explore potential majors and careers.

Register for and take standardized tests.

Review course selections for your senior year.

Attend college fairs and learn about college-prep summer programs.

Apply for summer enrichment programs, internships, or jobs.

Participate in Junior Visit Days offered by some colleges.

Review your senior class year schedule with your guidance counselor to ensure you are on track.

Register for and study for AP exams. ( Resource: AP Exams Overview )

Study for final exams.


Prepare for and complete finals and AP exams.

Begin writing college application essays.

Create a resume highlighting your activities and awards.

Request letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, and individuals who know you well.

Investigate financial aid opportunities from church groups, labor unions, and other organizations.

July – August:

Schedule college visits.

Apply for a Social Security number if you don’t have one.

Earn and save money for college.

Narrow down your college choices.

Begin working on your college applications, familiarizing yourself with the college application process.

Create a resume of awards, volunteer activities, and accomplishments to aid in your applications.

Register for your FSA ID to prepare for completing the FAFSA in the fall.

Student Aid estimator will help you understand your options for paying for college.

Your Senior Year



Finish High School

Meet with your college advisor or high school counselor to ensure you’re on track to graduate and meet college admission requirements.

Explore options if you can’t meet the requirements.

Choose A College

Narrow down your list of colleges to 5-8 options.

Attend local college fairs and visit colleges you’re applying to if possible.

Get Ready for Your FAFSA

Start preparing for the FAFSA and gather the necessary materials.

Obtain an FSA ID for you and a parent.

Check for financial aid workshops in your high school counseling office.

Review specific college programs and scholarship deadlines.

Get Your College Application Materials Together

Get your college application materials in order, including understanding different application types and deadlines.

Consider “early action” or “early decision” applications and their due dates.

Register for SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT.

Request letters of recommendation and work on a strong essay.

Continue participating in and tracking extracurricular activities.


Financial Aid Application

Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after December 1.

Visit for FAFSA completion events.

Check if colleges you’re applying to require additional financial aid forms, like the CSS Profile.

College Application

Make a final review of your school records.

Work on your college applications.

Request transcripts to be sent to your chosen colleges.

Apply for scholarships/awards from local organizations.

Meet early decision/early action deadlines if applicable.


Submit your college admissions applications.

Attend financial aid workshops.

Keep a folder to track college applications.


Check if all college applications are submitted and monitor upcoming deadlines.

Attend financial aid application workshops if needed.

Look for early admissions notices.

Gather information from alumni and college friends about your applied colleges.

Review student financial aid application forms.

January – February:

Continue searching for scholarship opportunities.

Be prepared to send mid-year grade reports to colleges.

Look for college acceptance notices.

Maintain a folder of correspondence.


Register for Advanced Placement (AP) exams if necessary.

Check your financial aid status.

Begin searching for a summer job.


Explore Scholarships if you qualify.

Review college financial aid packages from accepted colleges.

Consult with colleges’ financial aid offices if you have questions.

Complete your last college visits before making a decision.

Decide on your college, sign the letter of intent, accept or decline offered financial aid, and send required deposits by May 1.

Use the Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool to compare award letters.

Celebrate your college decision.


Check for eligibility for Scholarships or Enhanced Tuition Awards.

Send thank you notes to those who assisted you.

Notify colleges you won’t attend and inform financial aid offices if you’ve received aid packages.

Notify your high school counselor and college financial aid office of received scholarships.

Follow up with your college regarding financial aid and orientation.

June – August:

Arrange for your final transcript to be sent to your college.

Save money for your education during your summer job.

If borrowing from the Federal Student Loan Program, complete the application and promissory note.

Prepare for your first year of college!

Types of College Entrance Exams: Your Options

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)

For sophomores or juniors

Helps you practice for the ACT and SAT

Can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship

SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)

Measures college readiness

Sections: reading, writing, math, and optional essay

Scores range from 200-800 per section

Offered seven times a year, 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the essay)

ACT (American College Test)

Measures college readiness

Sections: English, math, reading, science, and optional writing

Scores range from 1-36 per section

Offered six to seven times a year, just under 3 hours (plus 30 minutes for writing)

TOEFL (Test Of English As A Foreign Language)

Measures English language proficiency

Required for international students

Four sections: reading, writing, speaking, and listening

Internet-based, four hours

AP (Advanced Placement) Exams

Tests mastery of college-level material

Various subject areas

Scored on a 1-5 scale

Scoring 4 or 5 often earns college credits

GED (General Education Development)

Equivalent to a high school diploma

Four subject areas: language arts, social studies, science, and math

For those who didn’t graduate from high school

These exams measure different skills and knowledge, so choose the ones that suit your college and career goals.

Test Preparation: Ready for Success

For Knowledge Tests (GED, SAT Subject Tests, AP Tests):

Take college-preparatory or AP courses during high school.

Practice with sample tests and get detailed score reports.

Consider tutoring or your high school’s tutoring programs for extra help.

Use test preparation books, available at your school, local library, or bookstore.

Explore private organizations that offer test-prep courses in person and online.

For Aptitude Tests (TOEFL, ACT, SAT, PSAT):

Understand that aptitude tests assess your potential.

Familiarize yourself with the test’s content and question types.

Start with a study guide to learn about test sections, time limits, and scoring.

Take practice tests to get used to question wording and time constraints.

Test Prep Resources:

Princeton Review


By preparing well, you can maximize your scores and boost your chances of success on these important exams.

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