Planning for college can seem overwhelming for most students. Make sense of the college prep process by following these steps. Additional resource links with information on scholarships, financial aid, standardized testing, and virtual college campus tours are below.

Freshman Year

  • Make studying your number-one priority. Participate in extra-curricular activities and begin crafting your resume.
  • Work to your potential because the grades that you earn become part of your Grade Point Average (GPA). Remember your performance in class now counts toward what colleges will review.
  • Make your summer “significant”. Consider collegiate summer programs, a part-time job, volunteer work, enrichment opportunities.
  • When on vacation, drive through and walk around college campuses just to get the feel of a large school, small school, private school, public school, or different types of campuses, etc.

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to work to your full potential.
  • Be a self-advocate, attend tutorials and do not let yourself fall behind in your classes. Meet with teachers, when needed, to review coursework, tests, and other academic work to learn from your performance.
  • Begin to consider the various types of colleges available and the types of programs that they offer.
  • Students who qualify for accommodations and need those on the PSAT must see Mrs. Dean in late August to apply for them. A student must be “using the accommodations on a regular basis in the classroom” to meet College Board guidelines for special testing.
  • Use the results of the PSAT to determine strengths and weaknesses in writing, verbal, and math skills.
  • Begin to visit colleges informally whenever you are near or during a family trip or vacation. Sophomores may be excused one (1) day for a college visit.
  • Prepare to take a career assessment that Mrs. Dean will provide and discuss the results.
  • Make your summer “significant”. Summer experiences are invaluable for personal growth and add depth to a resume.
  • Take the SAT and ACT in the spring of your sophomore year.

Junior Year

  • Focus firmly on grades. This is the last year to acquire a strong GPA for college admissions applications next fall.
  • Use the 11th grade PSAT as a baseline score from which to prep for next spring’s SAT’s and ACT’s.
  • Apply in early September for special test accommodations if you regularly use them in class and need them for the PSAT, ACT or SAT. See Mrs. Deanfor help.
  • Attend College Fairs in your area. Talk to college representatives and establish contact with schools of interest to you.
  • Talk with college representatives when they visit PCA. They can eventually be your “best friends” at the college admission selection table when applications are being reviewed.
  • PSAT scores can be used as SAT predictors within approximate ranges. They can also indicate areas of strength and weaknesses that students can work on before taking the first SAT and ACT during the latter part of the junior year.
  • Dean will meet with all Junior’s in the fall to begin the college research process. Attend the junior parent information meeting in the spring.
  • Get online and review specific course requirements for admission at colleges of interest to you. You’ll be better prepared to select appropriate senior-year courses if you do this research early.
  • Take the SAT and/or the ACT in the fall. Take SAT II’s at the end of your junior year if necessary.
  • Continue to develop your resume. Consider running for leadership positions during your senior year.
  • Ask teachers for recommendation letters before the end of the school year.
  • Visit college campuses. Begin to narrow down choices. (Juniors are allowed two (2) college days)
  • Have your resume started and up to date in the fall.

Senior Year

  • Make your summer “significant”. Consider internships, enrichment programs on college campuses, work experiences, etc.
  • Sign up for the SAT, ACT, or SAT II’s. Continue test prep if appropriate.
  • Make plans to visit college campuses of interest to you early in the fall semester. Seniors are allowed five (5) college days
  • Attend the senior meetings throughout the school year
  • Become aware of application deadlines.
  • Meet with Mrs. Dean to complete college application deadlines.
  • Research financial aid and scholarship opportunities and processes at the colleges you are attending and in general. Meet application deadlines.
  • Attend the Financial Aid Information Meeting with parent(s) at PCA
  • Finish the year strong. College admission is based on “successful completion of high school”.


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