COLLEGE PLANNING

It is never too early to start thinking about college.  Entrance into college is based on a combination of many things—grade point average, ACT scores, course selection, participation at school, etc. Many people think only juniors and seniors need to think about college, but that is not true.  Lincoln-Way starts to prepare students for college entrance freshman year and continues to help students through their senior year.  Entrance into college is based on what students do throughout high school.  Freshmen year is an important year. It is the time that students develop habits!  Consider these suggestions for students to do each year:

  • Get to know your counselor; meet with him or her regularly.
  • Take the most challenging course of study available that you can succeed in.
  • Build relationships with peers, teachers, counselors, employers, and activity moderators, as these folks will be writing recommendations for you down the road!
  • Work on developing strong study habits, note-taking, and time management skills.
  • Discuss post high school plans with your parents/legal guardians, and your counselor.

Freshman Year

  • Join clubs and activities in area(s) that interest you
  • Select a community service organization to volunteer with                                    
  • Use the ACT Prep Online to help prepare for the PLAN test.  This test will predict your ACT score your junior year and will identify areas you need to work on prior to taking the ACT junior year.
  • Job shadow or participate in career day                                                              
  • Participate in community service to gain experiences to include on a resume.                            

Sophomore Year

  • Look for leadership roles in clubs/activities.
  • Continue your development of service activity.
  • Go to college fairs.
  • Use the ACT Prep Online to help prepare for the PLAN test.  This test will predict your ACT score your junior year and will identify areas you need to work on prior to taking the ACT junior year. Consider taking to PSAT.
  • Take a career assessment
  • Begin cost factors for college and investigate your options with your family.
  • Begin to visit colleges when it is convenient.

Junior Year

  • Begin a list of characteristics/criteria that you are looking for in a school
  • Gather career information-job shadow or attend a career day                               
  • Try to link part-time job experiences with future college plans
  • Talk with college reps and ask them questions
  • Attend local evening information sessions about college that occur in your area
  • Go to college fairs
  • Use the ACT Prep Online to prepare for the PSAE/ACT test.  Consider taking the ACT multiple times.
  • Discuss a testing plan with your counselor.  Consider registering, preparing for, and taking the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT tests.
  • Check out free scholarship searches
  • Make college visits strategically, based on your chosen characteristics/criteria
  • Begin to consider which teachers, moderators, or employers you might use if you need recommendations
  • Make a list of colleges based on your search criteria; request information about them
  • Spring Break:  Visit colleges!
  • Research scholarship opportunities                                                                     
  • Discuss college finances with parents/guardians                                                   
  • Athletes:  sign up with NCAA Initial Eligibility Center
  • Look for summer job opportunities or other growth-related activities such as summer camps on college campuses or volunteer work
  • Refine your list of colleges; decide where you are going to apply                           
  • Save summer earnings for college
  • Request information, applications, etc. from your list of colleges

Senior Year

  • Meet with college representatives who visit your high school
  • Begin to file college applications                                                                         
  • Keep copies of applications and forms sent to colleges and organize them in electronic or paper folders
  • Write essays                                                                                                                 
  • Line up recommendations, if needed (your resume will be helpful here)                 
  • Send official test scores and transcripts to selected colleges
  • Check when college financial aid applications will become available
  • Keep a checklist – BE AWARE OF DEADLINES!!                                        
  • Finish and submit college applications (ACT Offered)                                                                    
  • Get a FAFSA form from your counselor, or a college, or online on January 1 
  • And apply for your PIN number                                                                                      
  • Have mid-year/7th semester transcripts sent, if necessary
  • Attend local financial aid information night/workshop, if available (These begin in January and run through May)
  • Keep grades up!  It matters!                                                                                          
  • Review financial aid packages, and mail supporting documents to the financial aid office if they have been requested (e.g., tax forms)
  • Complete FAFSA before March 1, if possible
  • Visit schools where you have been accepted
  • Make your final decision.  Mail your deposit and/or confirmation to ONE school no later than May 1
  • Notify, in writing, all schools where you applied of your decision
  • Contact the financial aid office if you have any special financial aid circumstances
  • Make sure you meet all financial aid requirements
  • Notify colleges of any private scholarship awards                                                 
  • Review SAR (Student Aid Report) carefully, if received
  • Submit housing application/contracts
  • May 1:  National Response Day for college decisions
  • Request that final high school transcript be sent to your chosen college
  • Follow procedure for college housing and orientation                                
  • Analyze projected first-year college budget
  • Check banking options in the town where your college is located