Last week we covered what students starting their high school senior and college freshman years should be doing between now and the end of summer.  If you missed it, don’t worry, you can find it on our blog (just scroll down).  This week our checklists focus on rising high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors.  Just because you don’t have to apply to college this year, doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan and meet certain goals.  Find your year below and be sure to check off each of the items before the end of summer.

High School Junior

Check your schedule to make sure you are on track to earn the credits needed to graduate and meet college entry requirements.  Challenge yourself.  If you can handle it, take an AP course or two.

Sign up to take the PSAT!  Doing well on this test will qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Look into ACT/SAT prep courses.  You should plan to take the SAT and/or ACT at least once this year and should do some prep work first.  Taking the ACT and/or SAT will put your name on mailing lists for colleges and can help you identify colleges  to visit this fall and spring.

Research colleges to apply to next fall.  You may think that you have plenty of time, but your senior year will be here before you know it. Your goal should be to have your college list finalized before you start your senior year.  This means researching, visiting and narrowing your list this year.

Start looking for scholarships.  Check with your high school college center, local organizations and businesses.  A great free online database of scholarship is

Continue your involvement in your school and community. Plan to run for a leadership positions.  Join groups that have to do with your future goals and take solid electives- don’t waste these credits on a class simply because it will be an easy A.

High School Sophomore

Sign up to take the PSAT and PLAN tests.  This will be great practice for when the PSAT counts (next fall).

Explore colleges through the web and schedule a couple campus visits for the fall.  Take advantage of college fairs in your area.

Get a job, even if you don’t need the money. This is a great way to build your resume and shows great responsibility if you can hold down the same job all through high school.

Stay involved.  Run for office in the clubs you joined last year.  Volunteer every week.  It is important to show that you have been involved all through high school and not just your senior year when you realize you have nothing to put on your college applications!

Continue talking to friends about their plans after college.  Talk to adults you know about what they do and how they got there… where did they go to college, what was their major, what jobs did they have before their current position?

High School Freshman

Ensure your schedule is set up to meet college requirements.  Remember that requirements will differ from one college to the next so make sure you know what is necessary for the colleges you might want to apply to and your intended major.

Explore your interest through your classes and extracurricular activities.  No one expects you to know exactly what you want to do at this point, but if you think you want to be a chemist, take a chemistry class; if you want to be a veterinarian, volunteer at an animal shelter. You may find that you really like it and confirm your interest or you may decide the profession is not for you.  Better to find out before spending tens of thousands of dollars on colleges.

Get involved.  Look at what clubs are available at your high school and plan to sign up for at least 2 this year… and really go to the meetings.

Talk with friends and family about career paths and colleges.  There are a lot of options out there, some you may never know about unless someone tells you about it.  Ask questions.  Learn as much as you can now; you’ll thank yourself later.

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