Timeline for College Admissions

Here are some general guidelines to help you plan for college. Your counselor may have additional school-specific tasks to add.

Grade 8

  • If you take any Regents courses, do your best because they will appear on your HS transcript that gets sent to colleges.
  • Meet with your counselor about the transition to HS.

Grade 9

  • Welcome to HS! Start strong academically: every grade counts toward your Grade Point Average.

  • Don't fall behind academically: HS moves faster than middle school. You'll need more self-discipline and better time management.
  • Get involved in activities like sports, arts, community service, or social events to meet others with similar interests.
  • Meet with your counselor to discuss plans.

Grade 10

  • Take the most rigorous courses that are appropriate for you. Keep your grades up.
  • Stay involved in a variety of activities.
  • See if your school offers the PSAT or other testing for sophomores.
  • Meet with your counselor to discuss college and career plans.

Grade 11

  • Keep up your grades while taking challenging courses.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT in October
  • In December, meet with your counselor when PSAT scores arrive.
  • Create a College Board account and link your scores to Khan Academy for free test prep.
  • See if your school has free full-length practice tests available for SAT or ACT. Time yourself through each test and check your answers.
  • Consider signing up for a test prep course.
  • Register to take a spring ACT and/or SAT. Most colleges are test optional, but you need a test to have an option.
  • Consider what you are looking for in a college: major? location - local or out of town? size - small, medium, large? setting- urban, suburban, rural? price?
  • Plan to attend your school's college night with your parents.
  • In March, plan to attend the National College Fair at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center or online.
  • Prospective college student athletes (Division 1 or 2) should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
  • Create a resume to list your qualifications (academics, awards, athletics, activities, service, employment, etc).
  • Meet with your counselor to discuss college plans. Review grades and test scores to identlfy realistic options. Plan senior course selection, choosing rigorous courses aligned with your career plans.
  • Create your account on Common Application.
  • Visit campuses with your parents.
  • Apply for summer employment, service, camps, or pre-college programs.
  • Finish strong to maximize your cumulative three-year average.


  • AP scores arrive in July.
  • Continue visiting campuses with your parents.
  • Continue working on your Common App account and essay.
  • Register to retake fall ACT and/or SAT.
  • Consider taking a test prep class.

Grade 12

  • Start strong academically - senior grades matter to colleges!
  • Sign up for college visits in your school's counseling office.
  • Attend your school's college night or financial aid night with your parents.
  • Sign up for fall college fairs and campus open house events.
  • Ask teachers for letters of recommendation; "invite" counselor and teachers into your Common App.
  • Follow your school's procedures for requesting official transcripts.
  • Update your resume; use it to facilitate completion of your college applications. Be sure to meet all deadlines.
  • With your parents, submit FAFSA beginning October 1st. Submit CSS Profile if necessary.
  • Create account on scholarship search sites; apply for local scholarships.
  • Meet with your counselor throughout the process.
  • Arrange to have your mid-year grades sent to colleges in January.
  • Thank your recommenders. Show your counselor your acceptance letters.
  • In the spring, attend Accepted Students Day on campuses.
  • Review all acceptance and award packages with your family.
  • National Candidates' Reply Date is May 1. Pay one deposit; thank other schools that accepted you.
  • Formally accept your financial aid offer and complete other campus-specific aid documents.
  • Finish strong academically: colleges will see your final transcript!
  • Stay in touch with your college to meet their deadlines regarding: admissions, financial aid, housing, meal plans, parking, health, academic advising, athletics, and orientation.
  • Congratulations and good luck in College!