Before Your Senior Year

It’s never too soon to start preparing yourself for college. No matter your grade-level, you can begin taking steps to position yourself for admission to the school of your dreams (hint: I hear TCU is great).

Below is a timeline with links that will lead you to tips and suggestions for both students and parents. Making good choices now means better academic options later, both of which will turn into opportunities of a lifetime!

Junior High/Middle School Students

  • Think about college as part of your future plans. Discuss your interest in college with family members, teachers, church members and other people you know who attended college.
  • Discuss a college savings plan with family members.
    Big Future: Your College Savings Options
    CNN Money Guide to College Savings Plan
  • Take challenging classes to determine which subjects you enjoy best. Knowing the direction you may want to go in terms of a career will help you select a school that is top in that field, as well as find scholarships for students in a specific area of study.
  • Develop strong study habits and stay focused in school. Self-discipline doesn’t come automatically to college students. Those who can balance studying and outside activities find the greatest success.
    Healthy Study Habits
  • If you are struggling in school, don’t give up. Reach out to teachers and school administrators for tutoring suggestions and help with study skills.
  • Speak with adults such as family members, teachers or family friends about their job career choices. Ask them about their jobs and what type of education was beneficial to secure such a job.
    Find a Career That Matches Your Personality

Junior High/Middle School Parents or Family Adults

  • Welcome your student’s enthusiasm of wanting to include college in their future education.
  • Talk to your student about their specific interests of study and future careers.
  • Discuss a college savings plan with your student and other family members.
    Big Future: Your College Savings Options
    CNN Money Guide to College Savings Plan
  • Help your student develop good study habits, such as encouraging them to prioritize their time by completing homework and studying for tests before social activities such as TV, phone or other distractions.
    Healthy Study Habits
  • Communicate with your student’s teachers, school administrators, and other school staff on a regular basis, especially when there are signs of changes in schoolwork or concerns.
  • Be aware of your student’s grades and performance on tests.
    Signs That Your Child is Struggling
  • Help your student seek tutoring when needed.
    Strategies to Help Your Student

9th Grade/Freshman Students

  • Meet and get acquainted with your high school counselor. Let them know what your interests are for future careers and learn what type of classes and areas of
    study are important in order to pursue your career goals.
  • Seek information about college nights or events when college representatives will visit your school. Collect information about the colleges of interest to you.
  • Research different college/university websites for an overview of the school regarding types of majors, location, social aspect and other areas that you feel are important when choosing a college—information can be found in your high school counselor’s office.
  • Take challenging classes that you can handle. (Pre-Advanced Placement/Advanced Placement/Honors/International Baccalaureate) Seek tutorial sessions when needed.
  • Establish good study habits and stay focused on school work, homework and school projects.
    Study Skills for High School Students
  • Seek summer enrichment programs that are college-focused or that offer activities and events related to college information and preparedness.
    Summer Camps
  • Talk with family members about financial savings plan for college.
    10 Ways to Save for College
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Get involved in school activities that interest you.

10th Grade/Sophomore Students

  • Continue to meet with your high school counselor about your educational and career goals.
  • Seek information about the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test), SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and the ACT (American College Testing)– Information is available in your high school counselor’s office and/or www.collegeboard.com.
  • Seek information about college nights or events when college representatives will visit your school. Collect information about the colleges of interest to you.
  • Research different college/university websites for an overview of the school regarding types of majors, location, social aspect and other areas that you feel are important when choosing a college—information can be found in your high school counselor’s office.
  • Take challenging courses which you can handle. (Pre-Advanced/Advanced Placement/Honors/International Baccalaureate) Seek tutorial sessions when needed.
    AP Courses and Exams
  • Establish strong study habits and develop time management in order to balance school work and extracurricular activities.
  • Seek summer enrichment programs that are college-focused or that offer activities and events related to college information and preparedness.
    The Importance of Summer Learning
  • Use some of your downtime constructively by reading a book or doing crossword puzzles.
  • Get involved in school activities that interest you.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Talk with family members about financial savings plan for college.
    What Does A College Budget Look Like
  • If you and your family members do some traveling during spring break or summer, include a visit to a college or university.

9th & 10th Grade Parents or Family Adults

  • Talk with your student about college plans and what career they wish to pursue.
  • Stay connected with student’s school work, grades and their testing skills.
  • Encourage your student to take challenging classes they can handle such as Pre-AP/AP/Honors/IB. Work with your student to seek tutorial sessions when needed.
    AP Courses and Exams
  • Be aware if your student is on track for all standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT and ACT—Encourage your student to pick up information from their high school counselor’s office and/or www.collegeboard.com
  • Talk with your student about a financial savings plan for college and begin the actual savings account if not yet established.
    Saving For College: A Guide for Parents
  • Become acquainted with FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) www.fafsa.ed.gov
  • Work with your student and seek information about college nights or events when college representatives will visit their school. Discuss with your student, the information they have collected about the colleges of interest. Help them research different college/university websites for an overview of the school regarding types of majors, location, social aspect and other areas that you feel are important when choosing a college—information can be found in their high school counselor’s office.
    National College Fairs Resource
  • Plan a visit to a college or university with your student during their high school spring break or summer.

11th Grade/Junior Students

  • Although all academic years in high school are important, junior and senior academic years are evaluated closely in college applications. Do your best in all classes.
  • Take challenging classes you can handle (AP/Honors/IB) and choose courses which will make you more competitive in your area of study (i.e., students wishing to pursue Pre-Medical, Nursing and Engineering should take classes such as Pre-Calculus/Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology)
  • Look into CLEP test options
    CLEP Credits are Accepted by Nearly 3000 Colleges
  • Take the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) and plan and/or schedule to take the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and/or the ACT (American College Test)—Seek information in your high school counselor’s office and/or www.collegeboard.com
  • Get involved in school activities/organizations and volunteer in your community in order to build your resume
  • Follow your high school procedures for meeting with your high school counselor regarding the college admission process and scholarship opportunities and financial Aid.
  • Become familiar with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) www.fafsa.ed.gov
  • Research different colleges/universities you may be interested in applying. Get on your choice school’s mailing list so you will begin receiving updated information
    regarding areas of study and their college admission process including application and scholarship deadlines.
  • Seek mentors (school staff, family members or friends) if you feel you need help with the college admission process.
  • Attend college fairs and events when a college representative visits your school.
    National College Fairs Resource
  • Contact your assigned admission counselor at the schools of your choice as they can guide you and provide accurate information throughout the college admission process.
    Questions to Ask College Admission Counselors
  • Seek information about a choice school’s scholarship criteria and deadlines.
  • Research information for additional outside scholarships through your high school counseling office, family member’s job/companies, Church, etc.
  • Arrange campus visits to your top choice schools.
  • Enroll in a summer enrichment program such as camps or events that include information or activities regarding the college admission process.
  • Continue conversations with family members about a financial savings plan for college. Possibly get a summer job in order to begin saving for college.

12th Grade/Senior Students

  • Although all academic years in high school are important, junior and senior academic years are evaluated closely in college applications. Do your best in all classes. Do not get trapped in the senior slump mode as that could result in serious consequences.
    7 Reasons To Avoid Senioritis
    Consequences of Senioritis
  • Take challenging classes you can handle (AP/Honors/IB) and choose courses which will make you more competitive in your area of study (i.e., students wishing to pursue Pre-Medical, Nursing and Engineering should take classes such as Pre-Calculus/Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology)
  • Plan and/or schedule to take the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and/or the ACT (American College Test)—Seek information in your high school counselor’s office and/or www.collegeboard.com
  • Look into CLEP test options
    CLEP Credits are Accepted by Nearly 3000 Colleges
  • Get involved in school activities/organizations and volunteer in your community to help boost your resume.
  • Follow your high school procedures for meeting with your high school counselor regarding the college admission process and scholarship opportunities and financial Aid. Be prepared to submit the application for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) www.fafsa.ed.gov in January or February.
  • Check out the College Financial Aid PROFILE. Some colleges require it if you plan to apply for financial aid.
  • Research top choice colleges/universities you are interested in applying.
  • Get on your choice school’s mailing list so you will begin receiving updated information regarding areas of study and their college admission process including application and scholarship deadlines.
  • Think about your future major and career path. Look for colleges that offer programs in your area of interest
    The Right Degree For You
  • Pay close attention to required documents (high school transcripts, teacher/high school counselor evaluations, test scores, essays, etc.) needed when submitting college applications.
  • Seek mentors (school staff, family members or friends) if you feel you need help with the college admission process.
  • Attend college fairs and events when a college representative visit your school.
  • Contact your assigned admission counselor at the schools of your choice as they can guide you and provide accurate information throughout the college admission process.
    Questions to Ask College Admission Counselors
  • Seek information about a choice school’s scholarship criteria and deadlines. Research information for additional outside scholarships through your high school counseling office, family member’s job/companies, Church, etc.
  • Arrange campus visits and possible interviews with your assigned admission counselor at your top choice schools.
  • Be aware of tuition/housing deposits and deadlines once you make your final college decision.
  • Continue conversations with family members about a financial savings plan for college. Possibly get a summer job in order to begin saving for college.

11th & 12th Grade Parents or Family Adults

  • Be involved during this important time as your student begins to make decisions on attending college and will need your support and encouragement.
  • Encourage your student to take AP classes and CLEP tests for college credit
    CLEP Credits are Accepted by Nearly 3000 Colleges
  • Discuss with your student the colleges/universities they are considering. Ask what they want to study and why they are interested in particular schools.
  • Work with them throughout the college admission process, but let them lead the process and be responsible for meeting required deadlines for applications and scholarship opportunities.
  • Become familiar with the required college entrance exams: SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and the ACT (American College Test)—Encourage your student to get information from their high school counselor’s office and/or www.collegeboard.com
  • Attend college fairs with your student, but let them lead the conversations with the college representatives.
    Questions to Ask College Admission Counselors
  • Study the information your student receives from various colleges/universities.
  • Get a clear overview of your financial situation and if you are on the right track to cover your student’s college costs, or at least provide some financial assistance. Discuss this information with your student.
  • Make sure your student has explored scholarship and financial aid opportunities. You and your student need to be prepared to submit the FAFSA application (Free
    Application for Federal Student Aid) www.fafsa.ed.gov in January or February.
  • Ask your employer if company scholarships are available for employees’ children and/or Church and other organization affiliations.
  • Take your student to visit their top choice colleges/universities.
  • Be aware if your student has connected with their assigned admission counselor at their choice schools in order to receive accurate information throughout the college admission process.
  • Seek people familiar with the college admission process such as high school counselors, teachers, family members, parents with college students, etc. for guidance throughout the process.