Take the SAT and/or ACT — Take the SAT and/or ACT for the first time in the winter of junior year. Most students do better their second time, so plan to test again the spring of junior year or fall of senior year. If you are worried about the cost of testing, ask your guidance counselor for a fee waiver!
Start developing your “College List” — Identify 10 to 15 colleges of interest with the goal of having several schools at varying levels of selectivity: some “probable” (sometimes referred to as “safety schools”) some “likely,” and some “reach” options. Continue updating this list throughout junior year and at the beginning of senior year.
Set Appointments — to visit and speak with representatives at your target colleges—Call ahead to admissions offices of colleges you want to visit. Note that certain colleges offer “fly-in” programs to cover cost of travel for students with financial need. Continue setting up appointments throughout junior and senior year. Focus on your core colleges and remember that if you cannot visit all the schools you have selected research online.
Scholarships and Financial Aid — Once you are midway through your junior year, it’s time to begin searching for more traditional scholarships that are specifically made available to students in their senior year of high school. Continue searching throughout junior and senior year.