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Grade Level Tips
aka What to do when

Senior Year (12th)

  • During the summer before starting Senior Year:

    • Use the summer to work on college applications

    • Look at what the colleges want and work on your essays, short answer questions, or personal statements

    • If you haven't already started, research colleges, take self-assesment surveys

    • Prepare a college list. Make sure you have a range of schools from ones you are very likely to get into to ones that are a "reach" or you are much less likely to get into. You should have at least 2-3 very likely schools

    • Look at your SAT and ACT results and work on your weakest areas. Use free preparation resources or enroll in classes.

  • Fall, Senior Year:

    • Take second (or first) round of SAT and ACT tests. 

      • SAT Fall Dates: October, November, December

      • ACT Fall Dates: September, October, December (note Sept. test application deadline is in early August)

    • Keep refining the college list

    • Make a chart of application deadlines

    • October start filling out FAFSA. You will use the prior-prior year taxes. For college entrance in 2017, use 2015 tax returns. Complete the FAFSA even if you do not think you qualify for aid, some colleges will award merit aid only if there is a FAFSA on file

    • October, start filling out the CSS:Profile which is required by some private schools

    • If applying early decision, or early action watch the deadlines

    • Cal State Applications: Oct. 1- Nov. 30

    • University of California Applications: Nov. 1 - Nov. 30 (submit BEFORE Thanksgiving to avoid the crush or servers being overloaded) NOTE: UC applications are available starting in August

    • Get as many applications completed and filed before Dec. 31 to allow yourself to breathe

  • Spring Semester Senior Year, starting in January:

    • Finish any applications due in January, February or even March

    • Make sure the Cal Grant application is filed by March 2, check with school guidance office

    • Try not to lose focus. Colleges want to know that you passed your senior year classes

    • You will start hearing from colleges

    • May 1 is committment day and the deadline to make your final college selection


Junior Year (11th)

  • Fall, Junior Year:

    • Settle into your classes and do the best you can

    • If you did particularly well on the PSAT, prepare and take it again to see if you qualify for the National Merit Scholarship

  • Spring, Junior Year:

    • Sign up and take both the SAT and the ACT (you might do better on one more so than the other).

      • SAT Spring Dates:  March, May, June

      • ACT: February, April, June 

    • ​Concentrate on doing as well as you can in your classes. The better you do, the more options you will have

    • Starting around January, start to research colleges. Take a self-assessment survey to see what type of learning environment you will thrive in. 

    • Visit colleges during Winter Break and Spring Break as well as the summer

    • Find something interesting to do in the summer where you can explore your curiosity. 


Sophomore Year (10th):

  • Take the PSAT in Fall. Don't stress out, students can take it without preparation to see how they do

  • If desired, take the Practice ACT

  • Visit some college campuses to see what you think

  • Most  colleges will look at Sophomore and Junior Year grades. They will also make sure you pass your Senior year.

  • Pay attention to the classes you will be taking and decide what level of difficulty and which subjects you enjoy most

  • Find something interesting to do in the summer where you can explore your curiosity. 

Freshman Year (9th)

  • Get used to High School

  • Check out clubs, music, theater, dance, sports

  • Don't stress out about college, but start thinking about what type of college experience you might want

  • Pay attention to the classes you will be taking and decide what level of difficulty and which subjects you enjoy most

  • What types of classes do you like most? History? English? Math? Science? Music? Languages?


Middle School

  • Parents: Students should be free to concentrate on growing up and learning.

  • Students: keep dreaming and thinking about what you want to do and where you want to go when you are older

  • Parents, start talking a bit about college and what it has to offer. If you are not sure, check out the resources at the library or on the internet (be choosy!)

Elementary School

  • Enjoy being a kid and learning about the world around you. Think about the future and dream about what you would like to do when you are grown up.

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