Preparing for College: Applications, Admission and Acceptance

9th grade:

  1. Grades start counting towards college! Strive for a high GPA. AP/IB/AICE classes will be weighted by most institutions and therefore raise the GPA.
  2. Pick a community service area that can be continued over the four years of high school, with increasing involvement, project management or promotion.

10th grade:

  1. Take the PSAT (usually offered at the school). This prepares the student for the SAT.
  2. Continue community service and join school clubs and counsels.
  3. Consider taking personality tests for career selection assessments
  4. For Bright Futures, record hours of service on an ongoing basis.

11th grade:

  1. Take the PSAT (usually at school) to apply for the National Merit Scholar program
  2. Take SAT and ACT by mid-year and again at year end if possible. Practice tests are available online.
  3. Attend College Fairs – Jacksonville has a large one at the Prime Osborn every fall.
  4. Create a list of the things you are looking for in a college. Divide it into categories of “must haves”, “would be nice”, “would like to avoid”, and “can’t do”. Begin to narrow down the choices according to these.
  5. Have honest conversations with your parents about financial abilities and the realities of student loans. Start researching scholarship opportunities. The College Board SAT website is an excellent resource for searching a multitude of scholarships that might be applicable to you personally.
  6. Make potential college visit lists. Consider visiting some schools in the Spring/summer
  7. Continue to take challenging classes and strive for excellent grades. Typically, transcripts are sent at the beginning of the senior year so that your GPA at the end of the Jr year is vitally important.

12TH grade

  1. Continue an academically rigorous class schedule. While your application may not have this years’ grades, all colleges want to know your senior schedule and definitely take this into account.
  2. Start a calendar with application deadlines for your favorite colleges. Some have rolling admissions whereas others have specific deadlines (some of which are in the fall in Florida).
  3. Take repeat SAT and/or ACT tests in the fall. Many colleges “superscore” your results, which means they will take the best score of each component of the tests to maximize the total score. Retaking the tests can only help you.
  4. Finish up college visits in the fall and consider special opportunities to visit your favorites for extended periods (overnight/weekend).
  5. Set aside time to work on college application essays and ask your English teachers or guidance counselors to read them and help you revise them.
  6. All students should start their financial aid application process (FASFA) when it opens, usually January of the senior year. It is recommended to complete this regardless of your parents’ income.
  7. If considering a Florida school, complete the Bright Futures application in the winter/spring when it becomes available.
  8. Finish the year strong and enjoy graduation! Look forward to college and yet enjoy this special time with friends and family in the present.