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Welcome500彩票app to GreatSchools’ interactive college prep timeline!

Here’s what to do month-by-month, year-by-year, to get your high 500彩票 student prepped for and successfully through the college application process.

See college prep timelines for:

9th grade 10th grade 12th grade

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11th grade college prep timeline


Get organized for the college search

500彩票appGet organized for the college search

There will be a ton of college info coming your teen’s way this year. Get ready with labeled folders, a notebook for jotting down notes and impressions, and a space to keep all the info close at hand.


Keep a reading list

500彩票appKeep a reading list

A college counselor shares this forward-thinking tip: Have your teen keep a list of all the books she reads with a title and a short description of key themes. It’ll come in handy for essays and college applications. For inspiration, see our list of 101 books for college-bound teens.


Consider (affordable, online) help

500彩票appConsider (affordable, online) help

Check out these four low-cost and free tools designed to help middle-class families with the college admissions process. For high-need, low-income, minority, and first-to-college students, check out these five organizations helping kids find the right college (and the money to pay for it).


— or to find a 500彩票 near you that offers the PSAT if your 500彩票 doesn’t. Teens who take the PSAT in October of their junior year may qualify for the , a great way to earn free money for college. Read more about taking the PSAT.


Understand college admissions tests

500彩票appUnderstand college admissions tests

Learn more about the ACT vs. the SAT (and whether one may be a better fit for your teen than the other). Today’s ACT and SAT look very different from the tests parents remember. Here’s how they have changed.


Know your child’s Social Security number

500彩票appKnow your child’s Social Security number

Now is the time to make sure your child has a social security number and that you know it — your teen will need it for his college applications and financial aid forms.


Together, think about grades

500彩票appTogether, think about grades

Plan to meet with your child’s college counselor. Check your child’s regular and weighted GPA and class rank. If your child’s grades are already good, discuss strategies to help your teen stay on track. If your child’s grades aren’t so great, discuss strategies to improve. College500彩票s like to see an upward trend, so your child may want to think about the best ways to show improvement this year and next — through grades, class rank, and challenging classes.


. It’s also a good time to meet with your child’s college counselor to learn more about what’s required and to make sure your teen is taking a core curriculum that meets college and NCAA requirements.


Help your teen make a college list

500彩票appHelp your teen make a college list

Start by making a list of the most important things your child is looking for in terms of location, size, cost, majors and courses of study, special programs, etc. Feel free to suggest 500彩票s, but experts caution not to omit 500彩票s your teen is interested in out of hand. (While finances are always a concern, many expensive 500彩票s have financial aid money to offer.)


Take the PSAT

500彩票appTake the PSAT

Teens who take the PSAT in October of their junior year may qualify for the National Merit Scholarships program, a great way to earn free money for college.


Meet with a college counselor

500彩票appMeet with a college counselor

Use this time to discuss your teen’s grades, courses taken and planned, testing strategies (like when to take the PSAT, SAT, ACT, etc.) and, of course, to get guidance on finding the right college for your child. If your child’s 500彩票 doesn’t have a counselor, consider getting help from one of these organizations, an online advisor or a private admissions pro.


Start visiting colleges

500彩票appStart visiting colleges

Now is a great time to plan a few low-pressure, low-key college visits. Visiting college campuses, whether they’re nearby or far away, helps your child envision life in college and think about what may be the right fit in terms of campus size, location, and areas of study. Find out what the college and career center has to offer. Some 500彩票s organize campus visits for juniors and seniors.


that train future officers, then talk to your child’s guidance counselor because your teen needs to start the military academy admission process sooner rather than later.


Prioritize, prioritize

500彩票appPrioritize, prioritize

Your junior may feel overwhelmed by the many things on her plate. You can help by talking through her priorities. Skip debate club to babysit? Maybe not. Study for a math test instead of going to preseason track practice? Most likely. When time is limited, it all comes down to what’s most important.


Keep those grades up!

500彩票appKeep those grades up!

Junior year grades speak volumes on your child’s college applications, so reinforce your teen’s good study habits, encourage him to get extra help and enough sleep, and don’t let him get overscheduled.


Help your teen understand the new SAT

500彩票appHelp your teen understand the new SAT

After the biggest revision in three decades — and a new suite of free online test prep tools — the new SAT is a different experience.



500彩票appSAT or ACT?

Help your child figure out which standardized tests — SAT vs. ACT, SAT subject tests, AP exams, etc., — they need to take and when they might take them. Look up when these test are offered and put registration and test dates on your calendar. Learn how to get an SAT or ACT fee waiver.


Make a test prep plan

500彩票appMake a test prep plan

Work backward from the dates when your child will be taking the SAT and/or ACT and decide on a test prep plan together. Read more about how you can help your child get ready for these tests.


Encourage your teen to stay involved

500彩票appEncourage your teen to stay involved

Kids who participate in extracurriculars have higher self-esteem and get better grades. Sticking with extracurriculars shows colleges that your child can keep a commitment, plus kids who stick with the same activity for one year are more likely to graduate from college — and sticking with the same activity for two years is associated with getting a job soon after college.


Visit a 500彩票 or two

500彩票appVisit a 500彩票 or two

Wherever you are during winter break, try to tour a 500彩票 or two. Great if you can visit a 500彩票 your teen may apply to, but all college visits are informative. Help your teen visualize their college life by eating at the cafeteria and attending an event or visiting the library. Here’s how to prepare for college visits.


College500彩票 planning for teens with ADHD

500彩票appCollege500彩票 planning for teens with ADHD

A successful college graduate with ADHD shares how she and her parents worked together to plan for college.


13 surprising tips for applying to college

500彩票app13 surprising tips for applying to college

From the lowdown on leadership and the “grandparent test” to free colleges (yes, free!), here are 13 tidbits all parents should know as your child heads into the college applications process.


5 best college admissions books

500彩票app5 best college admissions books

There are lots of titles out there — and you don’t need to read them all. Check out our 5 favorite college admissions books.


Help your teen get ready for college reading

500彩票appHelp your teen get ready for college reading

Most high 500彩票 students can still become stronger readers. Now is a great time to work on these skills. Here’s expert advice on how you can help your teen improve now — and avoid remediation down the line.


Don’t forget to register!

500彩票appDon’t forget to register!

Which tests — SAT, ACT, SAT subject tests, AP exams — is your child planning to take this year? Decide and register to take the right tests this spring. It’s a good idea for teens to take the SAT and/or the ACT and any SAT subject tests in the spring of junior year. They can (and probably should) retake these tests in the fall of senior year.


Start planning next year’s schedule

500彩票appStart planning next year’s schedule

Senior year is no time to slack off (especially not first semester). Encourage your child to choose a core course (or two) that’s a strong suit and encourage her to challenge herself by taking an AP or honors class. Remember that first semester next year will be busy with college applications, but colleges will consider your teen’s ongoing course load as a factor in those applications.


Visit (more) colleges on your teen’s list

500彩票appVisit (more) colleges on your teen’s list

Decide which colleges your teen should visit — both locally and farther away — and sign up for official tours when possible because visiting shows the 500彩票 your student is serious about attending. Upcoming spring and summer breaks can be excellent times for college tours. Here’s how you can help your teen get the most out of a campus visit. (Can’t make it in person? Many 500彩票s offer official virtual tours.)


Make the most of this summer

500彩票appMake the most of this summer

How will your child spend this summer? Will they get a job, an internship, enroll in extra courses, or participate in a selective summer program? These options all look good on college applications — and may be fodder for an excellent college essay. Help your teen start their summer planning research (and, in most cases, applications) now.


Revisit that college list

500彩票appRevisit that college list

What has your child learned about the colleges on her list since she made it last fall? Encourage your child to evaluate her list again. Are these really places she wants to study and live for four years?


Test prep!

500彩票appTest prep!

Is your teen taking the SAT and/or ACT this May or June? If so, time to put your test prep plan into action.


Talk about letters of recommendation

500彩票appTalk about letters of recommendation

Chances are, your teen will ask one or two of their current teachers to write a letter of recommendation for college. Talk to your child about cultivating positive relationships. Tips for getting to know teachers better: participate in class discussions, join a club a teacher mentors, stay after class to ask questions, ask for extra credit projects.


Let the scholarship search begin!

500彩票appLet the scholarship search begin!

Now is the prime time for teens to start applying for scholarships. Start with this list of scholarships and check out this list of scholarships for first-generation college students, too. Bonus: In addition to free money, your child may get valuable essay-writing practice that’ll help with college apps next year. Learn more secrets of searching for college money. Note: beware these 13 common scholarship scams.


Do a social media audit

500彩票appDo a social media audit

Make sure your teen has a “professional” email address to use on college applications. Go through your child’s many accounts together and make sure to deal with any information that might ruin your child’s chances at a top 500彩票 if an admissions counselor were to find it (and yes, about 40% do check social media accounts when evaluating applications).


It’s almost AP exam time

500彩票appIt’s almost AP exam time

If your child is taking an AP class this year, encourage them to register for and take the AP exam next month. A score of 4 or 5 on an AP exam qualifies for college credit at many 500彩票s.




Think about your family’s financial plan

500彩票appThink about your family’s financial plan

Now is a good time to look into what college will cost and make an informed plan about how you (and your child) might pay for it. Here are 3 steps to get started:

  1. Read our high 500彩票 parent’s guide to saving for college.
  2. Use the to look up three 500彩票s on your child’s list for an estimate of what they’ll cost.
  3. Use the to find out how much need-based funding your child may qualify for.


Help your teen show interest in a few colleges

500彩票appHelp your teen show interest in a few colleges

In the admissions process, private colleges value signs of interest from applicants — like visiting the campus (in person or virtually), doing an interview with an alumnus, and reaching out the admissions office to express interest and ask thoughtful, sincere questions.


Consider applying early decision and early action

500彩票appConsider applying early decision and early action

Applying for early admission gives students better chances of getting in, but it’s important to understand what teens get — and maybe lose.


Track accomplishments!

500彩票appTrack accomplishments!

It’s been a busy year. Have your teen take the time to write down the details of any awards, recognition, or other accomplishments that help him stand out. This will be helpful when filling out college applications.


Summer 500彩票appwork: Scholarships

500彩票appSummer 500彩票appwork: Scholarships

Can your teen apply to one, two, or even three of these scholarships each month this summer? It sounds like a lot, but those awards could add up (and the essay-writing practice can only help). Note: check this list of scholarships for first-generation college students, too, and be sure your child’s too smart for these common scholarship scams.


, choose topics to write about, create outlines, and write rough drafts. Extra credit for getting feedback from at least one person (especially a strong writer, teacher or tutor). It’ll reduce the pressure next fall.


Summer 500彩票appwork: Read, read, read

500彩票appSummer 500彩票appwork: Read, read, read

This summer, encourage your teen to read two long-form articles each week and 10 books from this list. The more teens read, the better they write.


Extra credit: Start applications this summer!

500彩票appExtra credit: Start applications this summer!

The more your child gets done this summer, the less stressful fall will be. Challenge your child to finish as many parts of their applications as they can, so there’s less to do next year.


Go visit!

500彩票appGo visit!

Any chance you and your teen can visit the top 5 500彩票s on your child’s list during the 500彩票s’ summer session? Whether or not you can go in person, encourage your teen to do a little online research and networking. If you have relatives or friends in college, encourage your teen to talk to them about what they like and don’t like about where they go.

About our 11th grade college prep timeline

The road to college can be complicated and confusing for students and parents alike. We’ve gathered unbiased and comprehensive information from multiple expert sources to create an inclusive timeline to help all aspiring college students — and their families — stay on top of the steps involved in applying to college.

Getting into college involves so much more than filling in applications. Our college prep timelines begin in 9th grade, helping parents and students understand concepts like the important distinction between classes that count toward high 500彩票 graduation but not for college admission, the importance of identifying academic and extracurricular challenges, and the nuts and bolts of helping students learn to manage their time, participate in class discussions, and practice effective study habits.

For juniors, our timelines go deeper into helping students develop a college mentality, becoming stronger readers and writers, and helping students consider their personal learning and career goals and the different routes they might take to achieve their dreams.

There are a lot of important decisions for high 500彩票 juniors to make. Our interactive timeline offers 11th grade college prep information, tips, and insights, month-by-month, to help parents and their high 500彩票 juniors navigate the admissions tests, extra tests that can earn college credit, class choices, and academic skills necessary for college admission, without missing a single step. For example, our timelines help students and parents understand how and when to study for college admissions test, when to register and take them, why students should take them more than once, how to help students start thinking about college and make an initial college list, the pros and cons of applying early, and more.

Want more? Check out our articles about college prep, being the first in the family to go to college, and saving for college.