College Planning Checklist By Grade

Independent College Consultant Marie Morris says it's never too early to start thinking about planning for college. She joined us to help simplify the college planning process with a grade-by-grade checklist for high school students.

College readiness at any grade
It's October and the school year is underway. No matter what grade your high school or even middle school student is, there are things to be thinking about.

Freshman year:
Grades. Keep them up. It is easier to keep a GPA high than try to raise it later. Seek out help if you need it. Get to know teachers
Get Involved. Find an activity, in school or out that sounds interesting. Try some new things. Don't create a laundry list, but do what you love and love what you do. Try some volunteer work that looks like fun. The Hands On Portland website is a great place to look.
Get to know your counselor. You never know what cool opportunities come across his/her desk.

Sophomore year:
Grades. By the end of this year, half your high school career will be over, therefore half of your cumulative GPA is in the books.
Activities. Again, do what you love and love what you do.
Talk to your counselor about any awards or contest you might have won or career exploration.
Start a resume of activities, honors awards and work experience.

Junior year:
Attend the college fair Nov 1-2 at the Oregon Convention Center. Check out the National College Fair website for the list of colleges that will attend and to register. If your student is interested in performing arts, the Performing & Visual Arts College Fair is on Monday, Oct. 28th at the Portland Art Museum.
PSAT test this week (October)
Make a plan for testing in the spring. ACT or SAT?
Get to know teachers. You may need some recommendations for college applications.
Have the "money talk". Parents, what is your expectation financially or otherwise in regards to your child's college? It's not an easy talk... but it's necessary.
Visit colleges. There is a wide variety of colleges in Portland that can help identify the right fit of school.
Summer of junior year, start looking at applications and work on the college essay. Make a goal to have it done before the beginning of your senior year.

Senior Year:
Re-take tests in the fall if necessary.
Finish up college applications.
Decide whether or not to apply early
Request letters of recommendation if necessary and transcripts and test scores to be sent.
January. File the FAFSA and any other financial aid forms necessary.