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College planning Timeline

Freshman Year

  • Work hard. This is the easiest time to begin a good grade point average. You have a clean slate.
  • Develop a four-year plan for your high school courses. Take the most difficult courses in which you can be successful. Most college admission decisions will be based on your grades at the end of the junior year.
  • Start looking at college websites in order to learn their admissions policies and recommended high school courses.
  • Start and maintain a resume of all activities, achievements, community ministry hours, and awards. This information is required on college and some scholarship applications.

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to work hard in school and maintain good grades.
  • Take an active role in your favorite extracurricular activities. Invest in a few areas where you are skilled and passionate.
  • Continue looking at college websites and start building a tentative list of prospective colleges. Take every opportunity to talk with college representatives at campus visits and college fairs.
  • Take the PSAT in October. To be successful, try some forms of test preparation and practice exams before the tests. Attempt your first real ACT and SAT in the spring.
  • Update your resume of activities, achievements, and awards.

Junior Year


  • Work hard to maintain excellent grades. Most college admission decisions will be based on your grades at the end of the junior year.
  • Participate in intentional planning and practice for the PSAT/NMSQT. This is the year when it really counts and can open doors for your future, so take it very seriously.
  • Take a leadership role in extracurricular activities.
  • Talk with college representatives at college fairs and during campus visits.


  • Take the SAT and ACT if necessary.
  • Begin to visit college campuses, making overnight visits when possible. You are allowed three excused absences as a junior and three as a senior for this purpose.
  • Continue building and start refining your list of colleges and identifying your preferences in schools, such as size, location, emphasis, etc.


  • Finish the year strong academically. (These are the last grades colleges will see on your transcript when you apply.)
  • Plan a spring break college tour to your highest prospective colleges.
  • Select senior-year classes.
  • Register for and complete AP Exams.
  • Research summer programs or enrichment opportunities.
  • Continue taking the SAT and ACT as necessary to improve scores.
  • Update your resume with this year's activities and awards.

Summer Break

  • Participate in summer jobs, service projects, or summer programs.
  • Finalize your list of prospective colleges. Begin previewing college applications and writing admission essays. 
  • Make more campus visits as necessary.

Senior Year


  • Register for another SAT or ACT if you'd like to improve your score.
  • Refine and narrow your college list.
  • Make final updates to your resume and print several clean, professional copies.
  • Make note of application deadlines of all colleges that you are interested in.


  • Carefully organize your applications, making sure to note all deadlines and required materials.  Complete them in deadline order.
  • Personally request recommendation letters from teachers, counselor, and employers, making sure to give them your resume, all pertinent information for the recommendation, addressed stamped envelope (if needed), and at least two weeks to complete each one.
  • Handwrite thank you notes to all those who have written or filled out recommendations.
  • Prepare for and write your college application essays. Work with TCA English teachers for editing purposes.
  • Requests transcripts from the TCA website, TCA Transcript Request, to be sent about the same time that your application is submitted.
  • Attend any local college fairs and meet with college reps when they visit TCA.


  • Finalize any college applications and make sure all accompanying documents are submitted.
  • Schedule and complete interviews with any colleges that require them.
  • Continue to attend college fairs and meet with reps who visit campus.
  • Begin searching and applying for private scholarships. 
  • All applications should be mailed before Thanksgiving break.

January - April

  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after January 1 as you are able. This is the best way to secure financial aid from the colleges.
  • Keep your application file updated with any new information, including a mid-year transcript.
  • Constantly watch for scholarship opportunities and complete those applications as they arrive.
  • Carefully monitor the deadlines for deposits and housing reservations.
  • Keep an eye on the mail and your email for acceptance letters and scholarship award letters.
  • Once you've made a final decision on your college choice, be sure to decline other colleges that have offered you acceptance.
  • Avoid senioritis. It can absolutely interfere with your chances of entering the college of your choice or void your acceptance altogether.


  • Take AP Exams.
  • Request a final transcript be mailed to the appropriate college after graduation.
  • Arrange housing and orientation details.