Health & Family

Organize your college search now

Summer's over and there's plenty of work to be done on the college hunt. Here's a clip-and-save list of what you should be doing this fall:


Finish researching colleges and prepare a final college list with reach, target and safety schools. Recommended list is five to nine colleges.

Identify the number of essays and the specific essay prompts for each college. See if there are overlaps that allow you to use the same essay for multiple colleges.

Register online for each college at their sites or at

Ask teachers in advance if they will write letters of recommendation.

Prepare materials for recommenders that includes: downloaded teacher recommendation form, stamped addressed envelope and Information Sheet/Brag Sheet/Resume.

Brainstorm essay topics with parents to help select the theme that allows you to share the most about yourself.

Make arrangements with your guidance office to send your high school transcripts.

Make your own application checklist that charts completion of: application, letters of recommendation, sending test scores, etc.

Double-check that the correct applications/essays are being sent to the appropriate schools and keep hard copies of everything.

Visit colleges you didn't have a chance to see over the summer or consider revisiting colleges of particular interest.

Prep for the ACT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests as needed. Register before deadlines and have official test scores sent by the testing agency to colleges.

Discuss realistic financial commitments with parents.

Explore financial aid and scholarships.

Study, study, study – first semester grades count.


Visit colleges when traveling, take campus tours and sit in on college info sessions.

Attend college seminars, financial aid workshops, etc. to get up to speed on the process.

Take PSAT practice tests to boost performance on the October PSAT that serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Meet with your guidance counselor to review senior courses.

Create an academic portfolio – save essays and projects that you might reference in your applications.

Seek out leadership opportunities in your activities.

And of course, study, study, study. Remember that colleges don't see any senior year grades when students apply for either Early Action or Early Admission – so junior year grades carry a lot of weight.