High School Checklist: Freshman through Senior Year

Quenosha Payton

Navigating the college process takes proper planning and early action! Here’s a short checklist to help you keep track of important tasks to complete in each year of your high school journey. 


Freshman Year


Sophomore Year

  • Meet with your guidance counselor for a follow-up on your grades from freshman year
  • Implement any advice gained from your guidance counselor check-in into your yearly plan
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT® or PSAT™ 10 to get familiar with the testing format and time constraints before taking the SAT/ACT your junior year
  • Get more involved if you can by adding extracurricular activities to your schedule (Guide to Choosing the Best High School Extracurricular Activities & Electives)
  • Add electives to your schedule that all you to explore areas of study that you might be interested in
  • Research your future career
    • Learn its education requirements
    • Expecting annual earnings for the next 3-5 years
    • Review LinkedIn profiles of people currently in that professions to see the steps they took to get there
  • Start your college search!
    • Decide what you want and need in a college
    • Research and develop a list of 20 colleges that offer your major and fit those needs you’d like to attend
    • Request information from those colleges
    • Review their acceptance/graduation rates, financial aid, scholarships resources, and tuition costs


Junior Year

  • Meet with your guidance counselor at the beginning of each 9-weeks
  • Re-visit your college list and try and narrow it down to a top 10
  • Attend college fairs
  • Consider job-shadowing a few professionals working in your dream career
  • Apply for some scholarships
  • Visit colleges from your list and start reaching out to admission counselors for more information
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT (each more than once)
  • Sit down with your parents to talk about finances and commitments
  • Enroll in test prep
  • Update your activity résumé at the end of the year
  • Make summer plans
    • Re-access and review your chosen career path
    • Visit colleges
    • Consider getting a Summer job
    • Earn community service hours by volunteering
    • Job shadow a professional
  • At the end of the year narrow down your college list to top 7 schools
  • Brainstorm college essay topics and create outlines


Senior Year


More Helpful Reads

How to Create a Four-Year Plan for High School Freshmen

College Readiness Tests: PSAT/NMSQT® and PSAT™ 10 Guide

Why You Should Visit Your Guidance Counselor (Early College Prep)

Should You Apply to College Early?

First Steps
Preparing for College

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