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High School Education Planning Guide

In addition to a strong academic plan, students should participate in school-based and non-school-based extracurricular activities throughout their education. Join the business, science or chess clubs. Try out for the cheerleading squad, basketball or debate teams. Run for class president. Work as a volunteer in a community or church-based organization. Any outside interests and activities you participate in while in high school will better prepare you for college and for life. College admissions directors look favorably upon students who demonstrate an interest and a willingness to have positive experiences and learn from activities outside the classroom.

The following section presents a year-by-year guide of recommended courses and planning activities that high school students should follow in preparation for enrolling and succeeding in college.

Freshman Year

Recommended Courses:

Algebra I
Earth Science/General Science
Spanish I

Planning Activities
  • Register with the DC-CAP advisor in your school.
  • Consult your guidance counselor
  • Familiarize yourself with school resources.
  • Outline academic courses for the next four years, ensuring the classes are college preparatory in nature.
  • Take the PSAT.
  • Sign up for extracurricular activities.
  • Explore interests and hobbies.
  • Take a career interest inventory.
  • Research and apply for Summer Enrichment Programs and jobs.
Sophmore Year

Recommended Courses:

World History
Spanish II

Planning Activities
  • Register with the DC-CAP advisor at your school. Consult you guidance counselor
  • Sign up for extracurricular activities, including that involve community service.
  • Take the PSAT and PLAN.
  • Research and apply for Summer Enrichment Programs and jobs.
  • Take SAT1.
  • Start building a “recommendations file”.
Junior Year

Recommended Courses:

Algebra II/Trigonometry
U.S. History
Spanish III

Planning Activities

Fall Semester
  • Consult your guidance counselor.
  • Take the PSAT.
  • Sign up for SAT Prep courses.
  • Contact colleges to request catalogs, books and other materials.
  • Attend College Fair.
Spring Semester
  • Take the SAT and ACT.
  • Review college publications to refine your search.
  • Review admissions criteria to colleges.
  • Research private scholarship opportunities and resources.
  • Begin requesting applications from colleges/universities.
  • Collect recommendations from teachers or counselors.
  • Begin preparation of personal statement.
  • Participate in summer enrichment activities.
Senior Year

Recommended Courses:

Elementary Functions
U.S. Government
Spanish IV

Senior Planning Activities

  • Consult with your guidance counselor
  • Request applications for admissions from the colleges you have listed as possible choices
  • Register for SAT and ACT tests.
  • Create portfolio or file to organize admission and financial aid information.
  • Attend a college fair.
  • Check college catalogs for admission criteria and deadlines.
  • Visit colleges that interest you.
  • Determine if you want to apply for early admission.
  • Research private scholarship opportunities and resources.
  • Obtain application fee waivers from your counselors.
  • Obtain personal recommendations.
  • Complete and submit college admission applications.
  • Request High school transcript
  • Pick up a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at your high school.
  • Collect information needed to complete financial aid application packet.
  • Complete financial aid packet and mail in after January 1.
  • Secure, complete, and forward LEAP (Leveraged Education Assistance Program), and TAG (Tuition Assistance Grant Program) applications.
  • Ensure all scholarship applications are in process.
  • Receive Student Aid Report (SAR) from Federal Student Aid Programs. Make copies and send to all schools you have applied.
  • Follow up with colleges from which you have requested information.
  • If you have not applied to a four-year college, talk to your college advisor about community colleges.
  • Receive financial aid award letters from colleges and make comparisons among offers.
  • Return acceptance letters before deadlines.
  • Complete community college applications.
  • Send deposit to the college.
June – July
  • If you have a summer job, be sure to put aside savings for college.
  • Take the community college placement test.
  • Pre-register for fall classes, if appropriate.


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