College Timeline

It’s never too early for students to plan the next step in their academic careers. The best way is to take advantage of college-preparatory experiences and opportunities available right here at CSS.

9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade
The Future

9th Grade

Academic Advice

  • Put your best effort into your classes.
  • Do some self-assessment. When you look back on your 9th-grade year, will you be proud of your work? What kind of student are you, and what are your academic interests?
  • READ! Make reading for pleasure a habit, and you will enhance your writing, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. These skills will help you do well in school, and developing a reading habit will help you showcase your intellectual curiosity to colleges.

Extracurricular Advice

  • Do some self-assessment. What are you involved in beyond your schooling? Have you made a meaningful commitment to any of your extracurriculars? What kind of citizen are you becoming?
  • Join clubs and seek out new opportunities.
  • Play team sports.
  • Contribute to your School and local community.
  • Start keeping a list of your activities, awards, and accomplishments. The list will be a good reminder to keep seeking these opportunities, and it is a good way to begin building your resume.

10th Grade

Academic Advice

  • Keep putting in your best effort in your classes. Ask for help when you need it and look for healthy strategies to manage your workload and stress.
  • Make a plan for what classes you want to take in your junior and senior years. Some classes, like AP Biology and Advanced Chemistry, are offered in alternating years, so you will want to plan in advance which classes you will take during your final two years of high school.
  • Keep taking a foreign language and plan to take your foreign language throughout high school.
  • Take advantage of your College Overview course! Mr. Playe loves teaching this class. It is a great introduction to the college selection process. Ask lots of questions during the class and try to meet with admissions representatives when they visit campus. Use your SCOIR account to begin researching colleges and adding them to your list.
  • KEEP READING! Make reading for pleasure a habit and you will enhance your writing, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. These skills will help you do well in school, and developing a reading habit will help you showcase your intellectual curiosity to colleges.

Extracurricular Advice

  • Do some self-assessment. What are you involved in beyond your schooling? Have you made a meaningful commitment to any of your extracurriculars? What kind of citizen are you becoming?
  • Join clubs (if you have not already) and seek out leadership opportunities.
  • Play team sports.
  • Contribute to your School and local community.

11th Grade

August & September

  • Be sure you are taking the appropriate courses. Talk with your counselor if you are unsure. Remember, the most selective colleges are looking for students who have taken Biology, Chemistry, Physics, the highest level of math offered at your school, and some challenging courses (AP or Advanced) that show you are motivated and intellectually curious.
  • Outside of the classroom, join clubs or continue your extracurricular involvement. Continue to look for leadership opportunities and other ways to use your abilities to help others in your community. Keep playing team sports (or try new ones!) and keep looking for ways to practice your leadership skills.
    • If you plan to participate in competitive college athletics, begin reaching out to coaches and consider signing up with a service to help you get recruited. Consult with your college counselor for recommendations.
  • Attend sessions with college representatives as they visit campus. You should attend any visit when you have a free period and be sure to attend any sessions for colleges that meet your specific criteria. Talk with your college counselor if you wish to learn more about a school before a visit.

October

  • Continue to attend sessions with college representatives as they visit campus.
  • Monitor your first quarter grades carefully and do some self-assessment on your academic performance.
  • Take the PSAT NMSQT and use your results to help guide your preparation for the SAT. Khan Academy offers free and customized preparation materials when you link your College Board account.

November & December

  • Continue to attend sessions with college representatives as they visit campus.
  • Start thinking about the type of academic program as well as the size and location of the school that would be best for you. Use what you learn during sessions with representatives to help guide you.
  • Study and review early and often for your semester exams. Our brains need sleep to process what we have learned, so do not plan to stay up all night studying the day before a test. Review over several days (or even weeks) to make sure you are ready. Create practice tests and join study groups to help you with your review.

January

  • Make sure any semester changes to your schedule have been reviewed by your counselor.
  • Fill out the “College Questionnaire” both to help you understand what information colleges will want to see and to help your counselor start to guide you through the college search process.

February

  • Begin attending weekly college counseling meetings with your counselor.
  • Register for your senior year classes after reviewing your transcript with your college counselor.
  • Finish your “College Questionnaire” by the end of the month.
  • Make a plan for taking standardized tests in the spring and early summer. Plan to register for the April ACT or the May/June SAT. Having a score is a great starting point for planning and test prepping in the summer months. Using Kaplan or Khan Academy test prep resources early and often will help you yield the best results on the test.
  • Start planning for the summer. Are you looking for a job? Summer classes? Interesting projects? Community service?

March

  • Make the most of the Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) and reflect upon how you’ve grown through the experience. ECS is very similar to study abroad programs as well as January or May terms at some colleges.
  • If you travel during spring break and will be near a college that’s on your list, set up an official tour ahead of time to make the most of your visit. Refer to the Campus Visits webpage for more information.

April

  • Ask two teachers to write letters of recommendation for you.
  • Explore FastWeb to look for outside scholarships.
  • Continue meeting with your college counselor and planning for possible college visits in the summer.
  • Attend meetings with visiting college representatives from schools on your list or that might be of interest to you. Check with your counselor to see if any might be a good meeting for you to attend. Remember to ask your teachers for permission if you need to miss part of a class to attend a meeting. You can also ask your counselor to invite colleges to visit virtually.

May

  • Focus on preparing for your semester and AP exams. These grades will be the grades looked at most closely in the admissions process.
  • Make sure you request that any transcripts from outside of CSS be sent to our Registrar as soon as you complete the course.

June & July

  • Visit as many colleges and universities as possible. If appropriate, schedule an interview, visit with financial aid offices, and meet with special interest persons/coaches. If a school offers an interview, please take advantage. Some require or encourage interviews, and it is always a great way to learn about a school and to help them learn more about you. Visit the Campus Visits webpage for more information.
  • Write your college essay. A draft will be due to your counselor on August 1, and you will review these in your English class in the fall.
  • Look at your scores from the standardized tests you took in the spring and make a plan for retaking a test in the fall. Summer is the best time to take a test prep course or to spend time preparing on your own via Kaplan or Khan Academy’s free resources. Visit the Helpful Links webpage for more test prep suggestions.
  • Review your college list and suggestions from your counselor with your family. Consider financial aid options as you start to finalize your list.

12th Grade

August

Submit a draft of your college essay to your counselor on August 1 for feedback. Register for standardized tests in the fall and continue preparing for the tests you plan to take. Look at the supplemental essay requirements for each of the colleges on your list and make a plan for writing the supplemental essays. It’s easy to put these off, but writing supplemental essays leading up to and during CSS’s College "Bootcamp” will put you ahead of the game and relieve stress as deadlines approach. Attend and take advantage of your time in CSS’s College "Bootcamp” before the school year begins. Schedule a “family” or “team” meeting with your college counselor. During the bootcamp, you will have opportunities to fill out the Common App and prepare to submit applications to your top-choice colleges. Determine which colleges require/encourage/offer interviews and sign up for one. See your college counselor if you would like to schedule a mock interview as practice. Review what is on your transcript and check with the Registrar if anything is missing or inaccurate.

September

  • Meet with your counselor to go over your list of colleges.
  • Review your college essay with your English teacher and see your counselor for further advice and feedback.
  • Check to ensure you have completed your supplemental essays for specific colleges on your list.
  • Take advantage of any opportunities you have to visit colleges.
  • If appropriate, research scholarship opportunities.
  • If interested in specific schools, visit with college representatives who come to campus.
  • Check with your teacher and counselor to confirm that your recommendation letters are being written.
  • Keep SCOIR updated by moving colleges from the “Following” to “Applying” category.

October

  • Meet with your counselor to discuss your list, status of your essays, etc.
  • Fill in your spreadsheet for each school: its deadlines, its testing requirements, the round of admission for which you will apply (EA, ED, RD).
  • Make final revisions to your Common Application.
  • Complete Early Decision/Early Action (ED/EA) applications. Review any Early Decision options carefully with your counselor. Take advantage of any college on your list that offers Early Action. It is always nice to know some of your options early.
  • Make edits/corrections to your college essay and supplemental essays.
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT, if appropriate.
  • Continue meeting with college representatives from your interest schools.
  • If appropriate, begin filing for the FAFSA (available online annually on October 1) and the CSS Profile (available online on October 15).
  • Apply to at least one college in Colorado during “Colorado Free Application Week.” This will help ensure you have all of your materials ready, and you will see how the process of applying works in SCOIR and Common App.

November

  • Meet with your counselor to finalize your college list and discuss remaining applications.
  • Submit any Early Decision/Early Action application(s).
  • Update SCOIR by moving colleges from the “Applying” to “Applied” category.
  • Complete your Regular Decision (RD) applications. Plan to submit applications earlier than the stated deadlines. You do not want to be up late at night submitting applications. Things can get missed and can go wrong, so it is always good to complete the process before the deadline.
  • Check each college portal after you have submitted your application materials to ensure your schools receive everything they need and require.

December

  • Follow deadlines closely and submit applications.
  • Update your counselor on admissions decisions for ED, EA, and Rolling Decisions and update SCOIR as well.
  • If you are admitted Early Decision, withdraw your other applications by emailing the colleges to let them know.
  • Focus on your exams at the end of the month. These grades can be very important to colleges. The goal is to have applications finished in time to prepare well for your exams and to enjoy the break, instead of feeling stressed about January deadlines.

January & February

  • Finish submitting applications to all colleges and update your counselor and SCOIR.
  • Send continued interest letters to those schools from which you may have been deferred or offered a place on the waiting list.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to visit schools where you have been admitted to help you make your decision.

March

  • Enjoy your final ECS!
  • Check your email throughout the month and update your counselor and SCOIR as you hear decisions.
  • Review scholarship offers. Add all scholarship offers to your spreadsheet.

April

  • Take advantage of opportunities to visit schools where you have been admitted to help you make your decision.
  • MAKE THE BIG DECISION! Notify your college by May 1, National Decision Day. Send only one deposit (must be postmarked by May 1).
  • Send notes declining offers or decisions to stay on waitlists. Make a deposit at your second choice school if you plan to stay on the waitlist at your first.

May

  • Finish strong! Your college will expect you to keep working at the same level you were when they admitted you.
  • Enjoy your Capstone! This project will be similar to internships you may have in college. Make the most of it!
  • GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL! This is a huge accomplishment, and we are all proud of you!

The Future

  • Take advantage of all the amazing opportunities you will have in college, especially the career services offered. You should be in the career counseling office once a semester to get advice on job and internship opportunities.
  • Don’t forget CSS! Come back to visit and keep your counselor updated on how things are going at your new school. Hopefully, we will be able to visit you as well!