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College Planning Timeline Through 11th Grade

Guest Author - Susan D. Bates

Below are college-planning tasks to be completed during your middle school years through your junior year of high school. Not every task will be appropriate for every student.

Tasks are arranged by grade level. However, within each grade, the tasks are not in a particular order

Middle School

  • Enroll in honors or other advanced courses
  • Take advanced mathematics courses such as algebra and geometry
  • Begin learning a foreign language
  • Focus on earning good grades
  • Begin researching possible college majors and careers
  • Explore your own interests
  • Get involved in school-related or community activities
  • Read books for pleasure to increase your vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Make your summers meaningful by participating in activities with an academic or extracurricular theme

9th Grade

  • Enroll in honors or other advanced courses
  • Continue to take advanced mathematics courses
  • Continue taking a foreign language
  • Focus on earning good grades
  • Continue researching possible college majors and careers
  • Explore areas of interests
  • Get involved in school related and community activities
  • Begin researching ways to pay for college, including scholarships and financial aid
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss your future plans
  • Talk with your family about college
  • Read books for pleasure to increase your vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Make your summers meaningful by participating in activities with an academic or extracurricular theme

10th Grade

  • Enroll in honors or other advanced courses
  • Continue to take advanced mathematics courses
  • Continue taking a foreign language
  • Focus on earning good grades
  • Continue researching possible college majors and careers
  • Explore potential interests
  • Get involved in school related and community activities
  • Begin researching ways to pay for college, including scholarships and financial aid
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss your future plans
  • Talk with your family about college
  • Read books for pleasure to increase your vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Explore the websites for colleges you may be interested in attending
  • Take the PSAT to prepare for the SAT
  • Practice SAT and ACT questions (there are some free resources online)
  • Make your summer is meaningful by attending an academic summer enrichment program

11th Grade

  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss your future plans and to review your academic record
  • Take AP, honors or other advanced courses whenever possible
  • Continue to take advanced mathematics courses
  • Continue taking a foreign language
  • Focus on earning good grades
  • Continue researching possible college majors and careers
  • Explore potential interests
  • Get involved in school related and community activities
  • Begin researching ways to pay for college, including scholarships and financial aid
  • Talk with your family about college
  • Read books for pleasure to increase your vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Research entrance requirements for colleges you are in attending and begin to narrow down your list of potential colleges
  • Visit college campuses in your area or while you are on vacation
  • Attend school presentations related to college
  • Take the PSAT to prepare for the SAT and to possibly qualify for the National Merit Scholarships
  • Practice SAT and ACT questions (there are some free resources online)
  • Take the SAT or ACT
  • Make your summer is meaningful by attending an academic summer enrichment program or by working (or volunteering) in a potential field of interest


Your senior year is the year that you will actually apply to college. Please review the article entitled College Planning Timeline: Senior Year to learn about the college-preparation tasks to complete during your final year of high school.

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College Planning Timeline: Senior Year
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Content copyright © 2014 by Susan D. Bates. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan D. Bates. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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