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.
  • in October, take the PSAT/NMSQT.
  • 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.
  • in January, arrange to have your mid-year grades sent to colleges.
  • 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!