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College Planning Checklist


Hi Money Masters, I bet almost (if not ALL) of you know at least 1 student who is getting ready to go to college or has started the planning process for college. I also bet that you all know how much preparation, planning, saving, strategizing, budgeting, thinking, sacrificing, etc. it can take when getting ready for college! Well, leave it to me to make it easier on everyone! Here are the steps of planning you can follow throughout the year starting now. For the printable checklist version of these steps click here. College planning tasks you can do before winter break (September–December):

  •  Make a list of what you’re interested in studying and explore career ideas

  •  Learn about colleges and save schools you’re interested in to your College Board account

  •  Make an appointment with your counselor to ask about upcoming college fairs and which college representatives are visiting your high school

  • Browse the college brochures and catalogs in your counselor’s office—you might find a college you haven’t thought of


  •  Ask your counselor or a teacher about taking the PSAT/NMSQT scheduled in October

  • You may be eligible for scholarship opportunities after taking the PSAT/NMSQT

  • If you plan to ask for testing accommodations because of a disability, make sure you learn about the request process and start early


  •  Manage your college search, test scores, and application statuses by saving information in your College Board account

  • If you’re looking at visual and performing arts majors, some colleges require a portfolio or audition, so look into the Major and Career Search tool and find out how you need to prepare


  •  Estimate how much college might cost and how much financial aid you may need with our free Tools & Calculators

  •  Register to take the SAT and/or the SAT Subject Tests™ and practice on Khan Academy® for free

  •  Consider taking AP classes and earning college credits through AP Exams

  •  Opt in to the College Board Opportunity Scholarships and start earning chances at scholarships for $500–$40,000

College planning tasks you can do before the school year ends (January–May):

  •  If you’re considering military academies or ROTC scholarships, you should begin the application process the summer before your senior year

  •  Continue to build your college list and explore schools by type, housing options, majors, sports, student organizations, cost, and more

  •  Take the SAT or consider retaking the SAT

  • Double-check if you’re eligible for a fee waiver—if you are, make sure you review all the benefits

  • Remember—67% of students improve their score the second time around


  •  Learn 3 different ways of getting financial aid and get a copy of your family’s tax returns

  •  If you’re considering playing sports in college as a student-athlete, make sure the NCAA® gets your SAT score and ask your counselor to upload your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center

  • Check out our College Planning Checklist for Student-Athletes for more information

College planning tasks you can do in the summer and before beginning your senior year (June–August): 

  •  Find a full-time job, part-time job, or internship to gain work experience

  •  If you can, visit college campuses, attend an information session or a campus tour, and make sure you talk to current students or professors while you’re there

  •  Create a résumé so you have a record of your academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and work experience

  • Brag about your achievements!


There you have it- pass it along to that “at least one person” you know so they can stay organized and on track to a successful start in college! Blessings to you all- -Helen

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