January College Planning Checklist

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January College Planning ChecklistWhat High School Students Need to Do This January to Prepare for College  

It’s a new year, a new semester, and the perfect time for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to get a head start, or keep up the momentum, on the college admissions process.  

While most seniors have finished applying to colleges and are anxiously awaiting decisions, underclassmen need to get started on test prep, their balanced college list, and improving grades, among other things.  

Here’s what high school students need to be doing this spring in order to set themselves up for a successful college admissions season:  


  • Now that you’ve had a semester to try out some extracurricular activities and clubs, think about which ones you like, which ones you don’t, and what activities you’d like to be apart of but are not offered at your school. If so, now is the perfect time to think about starting your own club.

  • If you haven’t yet, set up a spring meeting with your college counselor to go over the courses you should take next year, your activities, and discuss what activities you’d like to do this summer and what you need to do now to prepare.

  • Continue expanding your outside reading and keep up your grades! Remember, colleges like to see an upward grade trend throughout your four years in high school, so if you had a rocky fall semester, it’s ok! Work hard to bring to bring those grades up this semester.


  • Make an appointment with your college counselor to discuss your course load and what classes you need to take next year. Colleges like to see students taking courses with increasing difficulty, so be sure to plan a challenging course load for your junior year.

  • Keep up your grades! Again, colleges like to see an upward grade trend so work hard to maintain or improve your grades.

  • If you haven’t already, begin preparing for the ACT and/or the SAT.


  • Take some time to review your resume and make sure that everything is up to date.

  • If you’re taking the February ACT, be sure to register by Jan. 10, 2014. The late registration date for the January SAT is also Jan. 10, 2014.

  • Set up a time to meet with your counselor to discuss your course load, summer plans, and your balanced college list. Now is the time to discuss your college plans so that you can spend the semester researching more and adjusting your list if necessary.


  • Now is not the time to slack! Your college applications may be in, but high school isn’t over yet. Colleges will see your final semester grades, so keep your mark up in order to avoid a rescinded acceptance.

  • Deferred? Here’s what to do to improve your chances of admission in the regular round.

  • If you are applying to schools with a Jan. 15 deadline, continue working on your applications and get them completed ahead of time.

  • If you are applying for financial aid or scholarships, be sure to complete your FAFSA by the deadline that the school specifies. Some colleges request you complete the form by early February, so get started now. If you’re not sure when the school’s deadline is, call and ask!

What else do you plan to do this month to prepare for the college admissions process? Tell us in the comments below!  

You can also download the full college planning checklists for each grade here.

Related Topics

College Application Tips, Course Planning

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