College Admissions Checklist

No matter what grade you are in high school—starting out as a freshman or entering your senior year—it’s important to have a game plan. Find your grade level in the table below to see a preview of your college admissions checklist. Getting IN can help you execute your plan.

Fall Term

Take challenging courses that you can do well in.
Get involved in activities where you have leadership potential.
Develop talents and interests outside the classroom.

Spring Term

Take challenging courses that you can do well in.
Use Getting IN’s BRAND U tutorial to start developing your personal brand.

Summer Term

Choose summer jobs, service or educational experiences that sync with your interests, goals, and personal brand.
If you are traveling, visit nearby college campuses to get a feel for what you are looking for.

Fall Term

Take challenging courses that you can do well in, including Honors and AP courses.
Look ahead to the 11th and 12th grade courses you are interested in taking and make sure to take any prerequisites for those classes.
Take the PSAT in October and plan a testing strategy. Which test is best for you, SAT or ACT?
Take on (or work towards) a leadership position in your most meaningful activities. Use Getting IN’s BRAND U tutorial to start developing your personal brand.

Spring Term

Do well in your classes. GPA matters.
If you’re taking an AP science or history, take the corresponding SAT Subject Test in May or June.
Research colleges to get a feel for what you’re looking for.Use the Key Search & Key Match to help your research.
Plan a challenging 11th grade course load with multiple AP classes. With your school counselor, identify any required or important classes you haven’t been able to fit into your schedule and plan to take them over the summer, either online or at a community college.

Summer Term

Choose summer jobs, service or educational experiences that sync with your interests, goals, and personal brand.
If you are traveling, visit nearby college campuses to get a feel for what you are looking for.

Fall Term

Make a strong impression on your teachers! The most selective colleges want recommendations from 1 Math or Science teacher and 1 English or History teacher. Speak up in class and engage with learning! Ask your teachers early if possible.
Take the PSAT in October. Learn the best test for you (SAT or ACT), choose a target test date, and start preparing with regular practice questions.
Take on leadership positions in your most meaningful activities.
Begin building a preliminary list of colleges you’re interested in. Research colleges to get a feel for what you’re looking for in a school. Use the Key Search and Key Match to help your research. Attend local information sessions from college representatives.
Do well in your classes to maintain or improve your GPA.

Spring Term

Take the SAT or ACT for the first time
Visit college campuses if possible — over spring break is best! Use your visits to refine your college list.
Explore and review possible college essay topics using the Write IT app.
Take SAT Subject Test in May or June.
Do well in your classes. The grades you earn in AP courses are more important than the scores on the AP exam.
Plan a challenging 12th grade course load with multiple AP classes. Make sure you are on track to complete all graduation requirements as well as course requirements for each college you may apply to.

Summer Term

Choose summer jobs, service or educational experiences that sync with your interests, goals, and personal brand.
Work on your college essays! Plan to have drafts completed by the start of senior year.
Organize financial aid information.
Study for any standardized tests you plan to retake.

Fall Term

At the beginning of the school year, confirm with 2 teachers who will write you letters of recommendation. Choose teachers with whom you have a good relationship and who will effectively communicate your academic and personal qualities.
Stick with your activities and take on leadership positions. Consider starting your own group or organization that syncs with your interests, goals, and personal brand. Put together a resume or brag sheet of your activities and accomplishments.
Finalize your list of colleges to apply to. Be very aware of all deadlines, including special deadlines like Early Decision or Early Action.
Stick with your favorite activities for all four years. Take on leadership positions and/or start your own group that sync with your interests, goals, and personal brand.
If necessary, retake the SAT, ACT or subject tests. Be clear on the testing policy of each school on your list!
Make sure your transcript and records are up-to-date.
Gather financial information and complete a FAFSA and any other financial aid forms required by your colleges.
Fill out each application carefully, and ask someone to look over essays. Check that colleges have received records and recs from your high school. Have your SAT/ ACT scores sent to colleges from the testing organization.
Keep your grades up. Colleges will see them.

Spring Term

Fill out any remaining applications with spring deadlines. Check that colleges have received all your application materials.
Prepare to receive admission decisions throughout spring semester.
Explore and review possible college essay topics using the Write IT app.
If you have been waitlisted, submit a letter of continued interest.
Make a choice: Try to visit the colleges after you have been accepted to assess the vibe. Compare financial aid packages.
Send in your deposit by May 2!

Summer Term

Watch your email for important instructions from the college about housing, health insurance, etc.