College Planning To-Dos

Opportunities: Preparing for College

Excellent college-planning guide and workbook produced by the Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) Group: English version (2022-23), versión en español (2020-21)

Timeline for College Planning

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Every Year | Freshman Year | Sophomore Year | Junior Year | Senior Year

Every Year

  • Do your best in all class work; establish and maintain strong study habits and time management skills.
  • Participate in student/parent college and career planning opportunities including the Beyond South Evening Presentations.
  • Develop a reading plan that includes newspapers, magazines, and books. Reading from a variety of sources and materials helps prepare you for the SAT and ACT reading sections, college application essays, college, itself, and being a knowledgeable member of society.
  • Be sure to track all activities on your Google Activity Record when you’re working on your Career Center projects. You will need the information later for scholarship, college, and job applications.

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Freshman Year

  • Enjoy school! This is a place where you are developing as a student and a person.
  • Take your grades seriously. Freshman year counts!
  • Visit the Career Center and familiarize yourself with its resources for planning your future. This includes the College and Career Center web pages and the Career Center Check In in South’s e-newsletter.
  • Join or start a club. Try new extracurricular activities; it’s a great time to explore.
  • Keep your attendance record up and your behavior record clean.
  • Explore some community-service activities. Not only does this help out your community, it also builds your resume.
  • Attend Freshman/Sophomore Night in December (or engage in the Freshman/Sophomore Resources newsletter, a substitute for the in-person event).
  • Complete your Freshman Project in Canvas once the course is shared with you.
  • Visit college campuses when your travels take you near them.
  • Begin having open and honest discussions with your parents about college financing.
  • Review your curriculum plan in the winter. Ensure that your scheduling requests for sophomore year meet your career/education goals.
  • Use your summer well: volunteer, work, travel, develop new skills, read.

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Sophomore Year

  • Stay focused on your schoolwork.
  • Consider your interests and how they relate to possible career options.Image result for college clip art
  • Use the Career Center resources to research post-high school opportunities. This includes the College and Career Center web pages and the Career Center Check In in South’s e-newsletter.
  • Continue to visit colleges when your travels take you near them. Learn what your preferences are for different college characteristics.collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10
  • Involve yourself in meaningful community service.
  • Take the PSAT at school in October. Find your PSAT results in your College Board account in early December. Focus on areas to improve to prepare for the SAT. Don’t forget to link your PSAT results to the Khan Academy for free, customized SAT prep.
  • Attend Freshman/Sophomore Night in December (or engage in the Freshman/Sophomore Resources newsletter, a substitute for the in-person event).
  • Complete your Sophomore Project in Canvas beginning in February/March.
  • Plan junior year courses carefully. College entrance requirements may differ from high-school graduation requirements. Also, some courses required for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Projects or Career-Aligned Mastery (CAM) Projects (two of the Senior Project options) may need to be taken in the junior year.
  • Consider applying for the National Honor Society in March. It requires a 3.6 GPA, evidence of community service, leadership experience, and good character.
  • Attend your Sophomore Conference in the Career Center in the spring (waived for class of 2024).
  • Take AP Tests in early May of the same year you take those classes.
  • Plan interesting summer activities, including new learning opportunities, volunteering, work, and plenty of reading.

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Junior Year

  • Participate in extra-curricular, community-service, and leadership activities that reflect your academic, personal, and career choices.  Keep track of the hours you spend on these activities for use on applications.
  • Research colleges. Use college websites, reference books, college fairs, alumni interviews, reputable social-media sites, college search sites like Big Future College Search, and subjective college review sites like Unigo. You may find my 35-minute video, Finding a College that Fits, useful.
  • Research careers. Use Connected Lane County’s website and calendar, the Career Prep for SEHS Students page, and the Student Volunteering page to find career-experience activities that interest you.
  • Attend college and career visits, mostly during trimester 1.
  • Investigate college costs and financial-aid and scholarship opportunities on your colleges’ websites, at Financial Aid Night (in October or as a recording), or on the career center’s scholarship webpage.
  • Take the PSAT at school in mid-October if competing for a National Merit Scholarship or if you want to practice for the SAT. Find your PSAT results in your College Board account in early December. Focus on areas to improve. Don’t forget to link your PSAT results to the Khan Academy for free, customized SAT prep.
  • Review the SEHS Virtual Junior/Senior Resources newsletter with your family beginning in late October/early November.  It includes recordings/readings to help prepare you for life after South.
  • Complete your Junior Project Canvas course beginning in the fall. (You’ll receive email notifications once it’s time to begin.) It contains great opportunities to explore your education and career plans. Plus, it’s a graduation requirement!
  • Sign up during trimester 2 for your Junior Conference/Interview in the counseling center (to take place after winter break) with your counselor, Juli McGlinsky (A-F), Michael Leahy (G-N), or Shantel Buss (O-Z). Parents are welcome.
  • National Honor Society applications usually are available in early March. If you have a 3.6 GPA, volunteer experience, and leadership experience, consider applying.
  • If you decide to apply to a school that will require an SAT/ACT, plan to take a test by spring break of your junior year. Also plan to take one if you want to apply to highly-selective, highly-competitive schools, even if they don’t require the tests, if you think you can get a high score.  (None of the Oregon public colleges and universities require an SAT/ACT anymore.)
  • Plan to take AP, and/or IB exams in the spring.
  • Participate in college visits and other events offered by schools you’re interested in. 4J’s spring and summer breaks are a good time for live campus visits, especially if the college is in session when you’re visiting. Nearly all colleges now offer a virtual tour of campus on their websites, as well.
  • Attend Willamette Valley College Info Night in the spring to explore Oregon college options. This event is not offered every year.
  • Attend the counselors’ Rising Senior meeting in April. It will give you important information about your senior year, including Senior Project expectations.
  • Begin identifying teachers from whom to request recommendations next year. Some teachers are asked to write many letters of rec. You may need to arrange with these teachers during the spring of your junior year to be on their list of recommendees for next year.
  • Plan meaningful summer activities. Get a job. Do community service. Travel. Participate in an internship. Retake the SAT or ACT if necessary. Start writing college essays. The Common App opens in August.

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Senior Year

  • Use your SEHS Senior Planning Timeline to guide you through post-high school planning.
  • Get organized; develop a schedule with application deadlines, scholarship due dates, etc.
  • Take or retake the SAT or ACT in the fall, if necessary.
  • Sign up for and attend your Senior Interview with your counselor to plan for the next couple years. While in the counseling center, pick up your Purple Packet for 4-Year College Applications from counseling secretary, Leann Hollenbeak.
  • Investigate college costs and financial-aid and scholarship opportunities on your colleges’ websites, at Financial Aid Night (in October or as a recording), or on the career center’s scholarship webpage.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in October. This includes creating your electronic signature, also known as your FSA ID.
  • Check college websites to see if your schools also require the CSS Profile.
  • Complete your Senior Experience early. (Other Senior Project options include CAS hours plus the extended essay for IHS students, the CTE Project, and the Outdoor Leadership CAM, all of which have their own timelines which are shared with students by the classroom teachers of the various projects.
  • Review the SEHS Virtual Junior/Senior Resources newsletter beginning in late October/early November.  It includes recordings/readings to help prepare you for life after South.
  • Visit the Senior Year Info, Class of 2023 page on South’s website for many resources re: South’s college-application process. Leann Hollenbeak (hollenbeak_l@4j.lane.edu, 541-790-8013), counseling-center secretary, is also available to help with this process.
  • Attend college and career visits, mostly during trimester 1. Ask thoughtful questions of the college reps, and remember that the rep you’re talking to may be the person who reads your application for admission.
  • Narrow your list of colleges to five to ten schools including ‘Reach,’ ‘Match,’ and ‘Safety’ schools, both in terms of likelihood of getting in and affordability.
  • Update Naviance list of Colleges I’m Applying to and confirm email address is up-to-date.
  • Arrange with teachers and counselors for letters of recommendation at least two weeks (and preferably four weeks) before you need them. More information about this process can be found in the Purple Packet for 4-Year College Applications from the counseling center.
  • Complete admissions applications and essays.
  • Regularly check the scholarship postings (found in South’s e-newsletter, the career center dry-erase board, and on South’s scholarship webpage), especially during winter and spring.
  • Update colleges with your final grades after applying. Colleges may rescind acceptance if grades drop.
  • Write thank-you notes to those who wrote recommendations, offered you scholarships, or otherwise supported you.
  • Choose your college; notify all schools that accepted you. Send deposits and final transcripts.
  • Good luck! You’re off on a new adventure!
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