This is a general guide to the typical 4-year college process.  For more a more detailed look at the college planning process, please visit the Checklists and Timelines webpage.



  • Get good grades
  • Get involved in school activities
  • Do volunteer work/community service
  • Start researching careers and shadow people in the field of interest


  • Continue working hard in classes
  • Take challenging courses (Honors, AP)
  • Take the PSAT
  • Get more focused with career interests
  • Start making lists of wants/needs in a college
  • Have a discussion with family about financial aid
  • Start visiting colleges and attending open houses


  • Continue working hard in classes
  • Continue to take challenging courses
  • Stay involved in activities and begin taking leadership positions
  • Take PSAT for second time
  • Start studying and practicing for the SAT
  • Take SAT or ACT in spring
  • Make college visits
  • Start narrowing college search list
  • Think about people whom you would like to write you college recommendations
  • Attend financial aid nights and college fairs


    • Form a college list somewhere between 4-10 schools
    • Study for second SAT/ACT
    • Save money from part-time job for college applications/trips
    • Visit colleges that may be further away, which you are unable to visit during the school year
    • Think about college essay topics
  • FALL
    • Keep track of deadlines for applications and start applying
    • Be aware of early deadlines.  Make sure to talk with counselor about it and request the proper documents in a timely manner
    • Request recommendations
    • Complete scholarship survey
    • Visit colleges and set up interviews if necessary
    • Take SAT/ACT for the second time
    • Attend financial aid nights, set up an appointment with Mrs. Blackwell, our Financial Aid advisor
    • Create an FSA ID through and then begin the FAFSA, available starting October 1st
    • Continue applying to regular deadline colleges
    • Complete the Senior Scholarship Survey available through Naviance
    • Start looking into and applying for scholarships
    • Receive college decision letters
    • Receive financial aid award letters and compare
    • Complete all scholarship applications in which you are eligible
    • Make a final college decision by May 1 and put a deposit down to hold your place in next year’s freshman class
    • Complete all graduation requirements and start preparing for the next four years!

Forbes Lists of Colleges

Every year Forbes ranks the best 650 undergraduate institutions based on the things that matter most to students: quality of teaching, career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of debt.  To see this year's college rankings please check out Forbes List of Top Colleges.


Forbes also puts out a Best Buy College List which takes into account getting the best education for the best price.  This Top 100 Best Buy Colleges List can be found here.