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A Four Year Plan for Getting into College

Want a four year plan for getting into the best colleges? If you wait until your junior or senior years in high school to prepare for college, you’re behind the curve and the challenge of finding the right institution can be elusive. A four year plan for getting into college and maximizing your potential follows.

What do do Freshman Year
-Enroll in rigorous courses. Generally, colleges recommend a minimum of four years of a foreign language, science, math, and history. Go beyond the call of duty and consider honors, and eventually advanced placement or International Baccalaureate course.
- Look into SAT Subject Tests shortly after you have finished a subject. Some colleges require them.
- Conduct an informal visit to a college to get a feel for college life.
-Make a commitment to an extra-curricular activity and community service. The depth of your commitment over a sustained period of time is looked upon more favorably by colleges than a laundry list of activities.
-Explore how scholarships work and what the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is.
- Consider a test preparation and college counseling firm. Top Test Prep offers tutoring with admissions experts who can help you gain admission to your top schools.

What to do Sophomore Year
-Think about when to take the practice SAT or ACT college entrance exams. The preliminary SAT, called the PSAT, is given in October and is combined with the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
- Start to explore what you might want to study in college.
- Bolster your transcript with strong grades and continue with your extra-curricular activities.

What to do Junior Year
-You should have a list of ten to 20 colleges that you would like to find out more about and to tour. On-line virtual tours will suffice for some, but plan selective college visits with your family.
- Request information packets from schools on your list.
- Communicate with students or alumni from schools which provoke your interest through friends, family members, or recruiter visits to your area.
-Schedule the SAT (October, November, December, January, March, May, or June) or ACT (September, October, December, February, April, and June)
-Keep a journal focused on what makes you distinctive to assist you with your application essay. Consider formulating a rough draft of the essay.
- Continue your research on financial aid including merit based and need based aid as well as accessing grants and loans

What to do Senior Year
-Make a master calendar to keep track of test dates, fees, and deadlines for Advanced Placement courses and retakes of the SAT and ACT.
- Flesh out your college essays.
- Follow-up on scholarships and complete the FAFSA form.
- Determine whether you will be applying to schools early decision (binding if you’re accepted) or early action (non-binding, but a preference).
– Even as you complete the items on your master calendar, don’t celebrate prematurely. Your grades still count and even poor second semester grades could convince a school to rescind their acceptance.

David Dickson is a college admissions counselor with Top Test Prep; David also help with the overall admissions expert team with private school, college and graduate admissions advice.

For more information on Top Test Prep, go to our Quick Contact and Request a Free Consultation. You can also call 1-800-501-7737.