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College Prep Check List

Freshman Checklist

  • Establish strong study habits and time management techniques.

  • Explore and participate in community service.

  • Meet your counselor and start thinking about classes you might want to take at CA Connections.

  • Start a list of any accomplishments or awards to use later when you prepare a resume or fill out college applications.

Sophomore Checklist


  • Concentrate on academic preparation and continue to develop basic skills and extracurricular interests

  • Take challenging classes, when appropriate

  • Register for the PSAT -- good practice for the SAT

  • Participate in community service


  • Take the PSAT as a practice test (optional)

  • Stay on top of your academics

  • Be a leader in clubs, sports and other ECA’s

  • Take the Mock SAT or ACT                 


  • Receive results from PSAT in December

  • PSAT - review strengths and weaknesses

  • Develop learning strategies/plan for taking SAT and/or ACT in junior year        


  • Keep your grades up

  • Continue with community service

  • Explore summer internships and jobs

  • Take Mock ACT or SAT         


  • Visit local colleges, attend College Fairs, begin contacting coaches

  • Sign up to take summer classes at a nearby college

  • Volunteer, work or take classes over summer

  • Talk to friends and family about a variety of colleges

  • Register for SAT Subject Tests, if applicable

  • Add to your list of accomplishments and awards   

Junior Checklist


  • Plan college visits

  • Take challenging classes, when appropriate

  • Continue with community service during school year

  • Register with NCAA Clearinghouse


  • Take the PSAT

  • Have your counselor evaluate your records for college preparation

  • Make sure you are meeting the “a–g” course requirements for UC/CSU

  • Continue attending college admission representative visits                 


  • Network with your peers, family, and friends for information on college choices

  • Start keeping a list of colleges, careers, and majors that might interest you

  • Research colleges

  • Visit local colleges                 


  • Research colleges

  • Visit local colleges

  • Explore careers


  • Plan a strategy for getting the SAT and/or ACT scores you want

  • Continue community service

  • Register for the SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, and/or the ACT

  • Add to your list of accomplishments and awards                


  • Make a list of your top 10 colleges and begin investigating them

  • Plan college campus visits for your spring break

  • Explore careers/majors more in depth

  • Visit colleges

  • Research and sign up for summer internships

  • Take SAT or ACT

  • Keep your grades up         


  • Visit colleges

  • Narrow down to 5 schools to focus on investigating further

  • Take SAT or ACT

  • Review test results; decide whether to take preparation course, if re-testing

  • Sign up for and take AP exams in May (if appropriate)

  • Begin drafting resume          


  • Continue to collect information on your top colleges, majors, and career choices

  • Take summer classes

  • Volunteer or get work experience

  • Brainstorm ideas for writing college personal statement—draft statement

  • Discuss college finances with parents

  • Take test preparation class, if appropriate

  • Review your SAT or ACT scores with counselor

  • Visit more colleges during the summer

  • Ask for teacher recommendations

  • Add to your list of accomplishments and awards

  • College coaches can contact you after July 1st of your junior year.   

Senior Checklist


  • Meet with parents to discuss college finances and any other help you need

  • Register for any additional testing and send scores to schools you are sure you will apply to

  • Check transcripts to make sure they are complete and there are no errors

  • Complete your resume (helps teachers with recommendations, and you with applications)

  • Keep brainstorming essay ideas

  • Look into possible scholarships                 


  • Visit schools you are interested in and take a tour

  • Create a separate email account for all college info—check it daily

  • Ask for recommendations

  • Make a list of colleges you will apply to and their deadlines

  • Decide if you are applying Early Action or Early Decision to any schools

  • Invite teachers to send recommendations online         


  • Online application opens for Cal State Universities on Oct. 1; remember to check each individual campus for deadlines

  • Write your UC personal statement

  • Complete essays for early decision/early action

  • Complete any rolling admission, early action, or early decision applications         


  • Online application opens for UCs on Nov. 1

  • Complete UC and CSU applications/essays

  • Register for CSS profile (for financial aid at private schools)

  • Send SAT or ACT test scores to all schools that need them

  • UCs and CSU “impacted” campus application deadline is Nov. 30             


  • Continue working on essays/applications for Common App schools

  • Complete all applications

  • Complete all testing        

  • Verify that all schools have received your test scores


  • Keep checking deadlines—most private college applications will be due sometime in January

  • Turn in your FAFSA form (for your financial aid package) by March 2

  • Send thank you notes to teachers and counselor for recommendations

  • Check email from colleges

  • If you were admitted somewhere by early decision, you must withdraw all other applications                 


  • Most priority deadlines for CSS Profile are in Feb.

  • Check for email from colleges                 


  • FAFSA deadline is March 2 for California schools

  • Cal Grants application deadline

  • Complete any requests from schools that admitted you (housing, essays, etc.)        


  • Preview programs and visit colleges for an overnight

  • Send Intent to Register, and then notification to colleges you are not attending. (Deadline for Intent to Register is usually May 1). If deferring for a Gap Year, notify the college in writing

  • Check for any other deadlines (e.g. housing, scholarships)—some deadlines will be in early May            


  • Send deposit for housing

  • Register for AP tests, if appropriate        

  • Complete enrollment paperwork for your selected college         


  • Ask for final transcript to be sent

Make sure to sit with your school counselor and review your college prep plan* 

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