A Grade-by-Grade Timeline for Applying to College
These tips will help your teen feel less overwhelmed in planning for higher education.
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- Have your child take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. Even if she’ll ultimately take the ACT, this test will still provide good feedback on her strengths and weaknesses. Link the scores to Khan Academy for recommended lessons.
- Schedule college visits.
- Figure out when your child will take his first SAT or ACT and how he plans to prepare for it.
- Have her plan to spend approximately eight weeks reviewing for each AP exam if she takes AP courses. Typically, your child’s teacher is the best resource to start.
- Visit colleges. Focus on how your child’s potential career interest relates to the majors available at each school.
- Consider having your child take summer pre-college classes at a college.
- Encourage him to finish his college essay, and any supplemental essays, over the summer.
College Planning in 12th Grade
Now in his senior year, your teen will be finalizing college applications, submitting the FAFSA, and waiting anxiously to hear back from colleges.
- Make sure your child has finished writing her essays.
- Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in October. Check with the financial aid offices of any schools to which your child will be applying to see if anything else is needed.
- Schedule 1-on-1 college interviews for your child, on campus whenever possible. Remind him to come prepared with questions, take notes, and send thank-you notes.
- Make a spreadsheet and schedule appointments for all the important deadlines through the end of the year along with your child.
- Plan for her applications to be submitted one week early. The first complete applications are more likely to be read first, which is good!
- Have him follow up by phone or e-mail to verify that each application is complete. Never assume that everything is in order until you confirm it.
- Breathe! Encourage your child to engage in productive conversations with friends and family and only share what is essential.
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