College Planning Year by Year

College Planning Year by Year
>>Click here for a downloadable Checklist: College Planning Checklist<<
 >>Click here before requesting a LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION<<

CEEB Code: 340009

College Admissions Playlist from Kahn Academy (a series of YouTube videos that will guide you through the college admissions process): Click here

Inside the College Admissions Office (A series of YouTube videos from the Wall Street Journal with panelists who outline how to get into selective colleges): Click here

Freshman Year
  • Make sure you know your school counselor. 
  • Focus on your grades.  Now is when your high school transcript begins.  Make the most of each and every credit you are offered.
  • Start exploring your interests.  Use this INTEREST INVENTORY to get started.
  • Improve your study habits.  More challenging courses will require studying.  This is also great preparation for college.
  • Get involved!  Find an extracurricular activity that you are passionate about and stick with it.  Colleges look for involvement and commitment.  They go hand in hand. 
  • Start a file to keep track of your extra-curricular involvement dates (offices held) as well as any awards or internships you may have.  This will serve you well when you are filling out college and scholarship applications in just a few short years.
  • Start thinking about what types of colleges you may be interested in or that suit your potential career path.  CFNC is a great website for career and interest inventories.
  • If you go on a summer vacation, make sure to visit a college or two in the area.
  • Start saving for college if you have not already started.  
  •  Sign up for the PSAT.  It is offered mid-October.
  • Keep up your grades and continue to challenge yourself with courses and extra-curricular activities.  Remember, try to focus on one or two extra-curriculars and stick with it for the duration of high school.  (Selective schools look for dedication).
  • Continue to file away all of your awards and dates of participation for your future applications.
  • Think about summer enrichment programs (NC Governor's School and NC Summer Ventures are two great examples).  
  • Go to college fairs and talk to any friends you know who may currently be in college about their experiences.
  • Student athlete?  You may want to register for the NCAA website as well as the NAIA website.  See the details of NCAA requirements here: NCAA.  Check out this NCAA Student Guide: NCAA Student Guide
  • The college search begins!  Make sure to keep up your grades and take challenging courses.  Here's a handy COLLEGE COMPARISON WORKSHEET from the NACAC.  
  • Continue with extra-curriculars.
  • Update or create your resume and continue filing away your important dates and awards.
  • If you haven't already, take the SAT in the spring (you will take it again fall of Senior year).
  •  If you plan to play sports in college make sure to sign up for the NCAA website and submit any needed forms.
  • Meet with your counselor to make sure you are on track.
  • Consider an internship or job shadowing experience in a career field of interest.
  • Review colleges on the internet.
  •  Sign up for the ACT and SAT again (fall semester).
  • Review your transcript to make sure you are on track for graduation and double check things.
  • Meet with your school counselor.
  • Keep working hard!  You are in the home stretch, but second semester grades can affect many things (scholarships, etc).
  • Don't slack off in your course load.  Colleges will be looking at your senior schedule.
  • Continue with extra-curriculars.  Remember that it is important to choose something and stick with it.
  • Ask for Letters of Recommendations early in the year from teachers, school counselors and employers.  Do not wait until a few weeks before your application deadline. 
  • Attend a college fair and meet with college admissions as they visit the high school.
  • Begin college essays.
  • Apply for admission.  Use this COLLEGE APPLICATION WORKSHEET to keep track of it all.
  • Start the financial aid application process and check colleges to see if you qualify for scholarships offered.
  • Complete the FAFSA 
  • Ask your counseling office in January to send first semester transcripts to schools where you applied. In May, they will need to send final transcripts to the college you will attend.
  • Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll
  • Decide which college to attend, and notify the school of your decision
  • Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork
  • Notify schools you will not attend of your decision
  • Continue to look for scholarship opportunities
  • Keep track of important financial aid and scholarship deadlines
  • Compare financial aid packages from different schools
  • Sign and send in a promissory note if you are borrowing money
  • Notify your college about any outside scholarships you received


Download this RDS Basics Guide: RDS Basics

***Beginning this spring (2017), new curriculum students wishing to enroll at any North Carolina Community College or NC public 4 year school will be required to participate in a new Residency Determination Service (RDS) . The system will determine whether or not a student is eligible for in-state tuition rates. 
Students planning to apply for admission to A-B Tech or any other two or four year public college in the state after this implementation date will be required to complete an online residency application which will be part of the college application process. Students will be required to answer a set of common questions and provide a Social Security number for them and their parents if they are dependents. The RDS is a statewide system used by all N.C. higher education institutions. Residency determination will no longer occur at the institution level. The system complies with a legislative directive passed by N.C. General Assembly in July 2013.

Forgivable Education Loans for Service
The Forgivable Education Loans for Service program provides funding for NC students pursuing programs leading to careers in areas with critical need, such as nursing, teaching, allied health fields and medicine.  The FELS application and program information for the 2014-15 academic year will be available Nov 2013 at  The priority for submitting the FELS application is April 1, 2014.
Students who receive funds through this program must sign a promissory note agreeing to work in NC after graduation in an approved position, one year for each academic year of funding received.  Students who do not perform the required service must repay the loans in cash, with interest. 
Helpful College Planning Links