College Checklist

High school is a busy time that goes by quickly. But it can be easy to lose track of the college search and application process and the important steps you should be taking.

Use this College Checklist to stay on track throughout your high school years and prepare for the next step in your educational journey...college!
  • Take challenging classes in core academic courses.
  • Work with school counselor to create a yearly schedule that meets graduation requirements.
  • Talk to an advisor or school counselor about taking AP and honors courses.
  • Get involved with community-based and leadership-oriented activities.
  • Explore and identify career fields of interest through online research and by attending career fairs.
  • Develop a running list of accomplishments, awards, and recognitions to use in preparing a résumé and college applications.

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  • Attend college and career information events.
  • Research funding for college, including scholarships, grants, loans, etc.
  • Reach out to mentors in the fields of interest.
  • Continue exploring college and career options.
  • Consider taking a practice test to prepare for the PSAT.

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Fall semester...

  • Take the PSAT. Students must take the PSAT in 11th grade to qualify for National Merit scholarships and programs.
  • Attend in-person or online college fairs and college-prep presentations.
  • Explore careers and their earning potentials online.
  • Register for college admission exams such as the SAT and ACT; take practice tests to prepare.

Spring semester...

  • Research ways to pay for college.
  • Identify scholarship opportunities to pursue; note deadlines on calendar.
  • Contact colleges to request information and applications.
  • Register for Iowa Private College Week.

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Summer before senior year...

  • Start visiting colleges.
  • Narrow down the colleges being considered.
  • Make decisions regarding early decision or early action programs.
  • Work with parents to complete and submit FAFSA.

Fall semester...

  • Register for and take (or retake) the SAT and/or ACT, if not already done.
  • Complete and submit college applications prior to deadlines.
  • Complete and submit scholarship applications prior to deadlines.
  • Request transcripts and letters of recommendation.
  • Request a FAFSA User ID and password
  • Meet with a counselor to verify that graduation requirements will be met on schedule.

Winter months....

  • Review and make any necessary changes/corrections to the Student Aid Report.
  • Finish submitting scholarship applications.
  • Attend scholarship events/auditions.

Spring semester...

  • Visit colleges on your or the “short list.”
  • Consider college acceptances; compare financial aid packages offered.
  • Call college financial aid representatives with questions.
  • Decide on the college to attend and contact its offices.
  • Make informed decisions about student loans.

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