Checklist for College...
9th Grade Set Your Sights on College
- Take courses that challenge you.
- Meet with your school counselor to discuss your educational and course options.
- Explore courses such as AP, honors, and Career and College Promise.
- Create a free CFNC account to save your courses, activities, and more.
- Discover career interests at CFNC.org.
- Research ways to save and pay for college.
10th Grade Keep Your Focus
- Pursue extracurricular interests, such as dance, sports, clubs, or community service.
- Review your goals for the future with your counselor.
- Update your CFNC plan of study.
- Find free SAT and ACT test prep resources at CFNC.org.
- Look on CFNC.org for free SAT and ACT test prep resources.
- Take the PSAT for practice.
- Talk with family and friends about their educational choices.
- Use CFNC’s College Search tool to research N.C. colleges.
11th Grade The Critical Year for Success
- Review your academic plan with your counselor.
- Use CFNC.org to find free practice tests for the SAT and ACT.
- Take the PSAT in October (may qualify for National Merit Scholarship).
- Check admissions requirements of colleges that interest you.
- Keep your CFNC plan of study updated.
- Attend college fairs and financial aid workshops.
- Visit colleges.
- Use CFNC.org to research scholarships, grants, and loans.
- Talk with coaches about college sports and scholarship eligibility.
- Register and take SAT, ACT, and/or AP tests.
- Narrow down your list of colleges.
- Find a summer job or internship in your field of interest.
- Get a head start on finding money for college. Go to fsaid.ed.gov for a Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) for you and a parent or guardian. You’ll need FSA ID to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in your senior year. Save IDs in a secure place and do not share with anyone else.
12th Grade Fall Don’t Let Up
- Review courses, graduation requirements, and scholarship opportunities with your counselor.
- Update your CFNC plan of study.
- Take the first SAT or ACT offered this fall.
- Select at least five colleges – a reach school, a safety school, and others in between.
- As soon as possible after October 1, go to fafsa.gov to complete and submit the FAFSA. Check CFNC.org for a FAFSA Day event near you or call 866.866.CFNC if you need help.
- Participate in College Application Week if offered at your school.
- Keep track of the application and financial aid deadlines of your college choices.
- Check with college financial aid offices for school-specific scholarship information, deadlines, and forms.
- Write, edit, proofread, and rewrite your admissions essays early.
- Ask teachers, counselors, or community leaders to write recommendation letters to support your applications.
- Use CFNC.org online application system to complete N.C. college and university applications and send your official transcripts (if you attend an N.C. public high school).
- Submit applications to out-of-state schools through their websites.
- If you are a student athlete, send transcripts to NCAA Clearinghouse for eligibility certification.
12th Grade Spring Finish Strong
- Compare admission acceptance letters and financial aid packages.
- Apply for education loans, if needed. Limit the amount you borrow; you will have to pay it back.
- Send in your enrollment deposit to hold your spot at the college you choose.
- If not accepted by your college of choice, use the College Redirection module at CFNC.org for new options.
- Make sure your final high school transcript is sent to your college (goes automatically if requested through CFNC.org earlier).
- Send in college credit course transcripts (community college, middle college), if any.
- Take exams for any AP or college-level courses completed.
- If planning to attend a community college, check with your local campus about placement testing requirements.
Adapted from Pathways, College Foundation, Inc., and State Education Assistance Authority (CFNC) CFI Form G 632 (11/16)
CFNC is a service of the State of North Carolina provided by a collaboration of Pathways (the N.C. Department of Public Instructions, the N.C. Community College System, the N.C Independent Colleges and Universities, and The University of North Carolina System), College Foundation, Inc., and N.C. State Education Assistance Authority.
Countdown to college...Junior YearSeptember
Have the “college” talk with your parents.
Where do you want to go? What major? How much can you spend?October
Take the PSAT!
It can give you an idea of where you fall in the college applicant pool. Plus, your scores may make you eligible for national scholarships.November
Consider how you’ll pay for college.
Take a look at different types of loans and scholarships. From the exceptionally tall to the llama enthusiast, there’s a scholarship opportunity for everyone!December
Take the ACT/SAT
These tests are crucial to figuring out which schools are a good match for you. Be sure to take practice tests and even a prep course to ensure that you get your best score possible.March
Make a list
Once you have a list of possible schools, start planning your visits. Counselors often recommend visiting six to eight colleges to keep a narrow, focused list.Senior YearAugust
Start your essays!
With your top schools in mind, start drafting your work and be sure to leave yourself time for edits, edits, and more edits.September
Secure letters of recommendation.
Reach out to teachers, coaches, and employers who would be happy to write you a glowing review. Don’t forget to send them a thank you note afterwards!October
Submit your FAFSA.
Some student aid programs award funds on a first-come, first-served basis so don’t wait too long to submit your FAFSA.
Consider re-taking standardized tests.
You can also re-take your SAT to try to raise your score.November
Stay on top of deadlines.
Don’t let the date for early application sneak up on you. Many schools have different application deadlines; make sure you know when everything is due.January
Apps are due!
January 1st is the universal deadline for most school’s applications, so make sure yours are in. If you applied early action, you could get your decision letter any dayFebruary
Keep an eye out for your college acceptance letters.March
Watch for award letters.
This is when you’ll get financial aid award letters from the schools that have accepted you. Compare them to see which offers the best financial aid package.April
After deciding where you’d like to go, make sure to stay on top of communications from your school. Deposits, forms, and housing apps are all due prior to leaving in the fall.May
Make a budget.
Talk with your parents to figure out how much you’ll expect to earn and pay while at school. Having a budget will start you on the journey toward financial responsibility.Summer
Final to-do items.
This is the time to attend orientation, register for your classes, and make sure the tuition bill is paid. It’s also the time to have fun—and have an amazing time!Adapted from "Stay on track: Your stress-free guide for applying to college", 2016, Sallie Mae Bank.
General GPA RangesThis list is not intended to discourage you from applying if you’re not in a school's range. The list is meant to help you get a feel for what might be safety, match, and/or reach schools.