High School Timeline: What to Do and When

By  Layton Funk

Published on  November 5, 2019

High School calendar

High School

Nearly every new high school student wonders what their experience is going to be like and worry about what the future holds. Worry no longer! Get a hold of your destiny by planning, preparing, and staying focused on your goals. This is by no means a concrete guide to follow verbatim. However, if you keep many of these points in mind you most certainly will find yourself on task if you stay dedicated, organized, and motivated during high school. Even if you’re late to the party and are reading this as a sophomore or junior or even senior, having some guidance will help much more than being lost in the dark. Supplement this guide with some help from your counselor or a professional tutor as they will give you hands-on assistance on your path to college and careers.

Freshmen

When starting high school, you have to make sure to have a plan constructed with your future in mind. If you’re not completely positive about what that’s going to be, challenge yourself with a variety of different subjects! On top of all that, take as many chances as you can to immerse yourself in your community and extracurricular activities as possible. 

Fall

  • Meet with your school counselor
  • Create a 4-year academic plan
  • Register for AP and honors classes (or IB program)
  • Join school clubs/organizations and volunteering

Spring

  • Become or continue to be an avid reader
  • Run for leadership positions in organizations, if possible
  • Sign up for advanced Sophomore year classes
  • Study hard for finals, finishing the year strong

Summer

  • Volunteer at least 100 hours, work, and/or take a summer program
  • Visit some colleges
  • Study for upcoming classes and the SAT/ACT/PSAT
  • Have fun!

Sophomores

Finding work and saving money can be just as important as getting good grades – college and life are expensive! As important as studying and preparing for college is, healthy personal and social lives are extremely important for your mental health and well being. Balance is always key!

Fall

  • Build a rapport with your counselor
  • Update your academic plan, if need be
  • Pursue your interests and discover your desired college major
  • Take the PSAT

Spring

  • Attend more college fairs
  • Sign up for advanced Junior year classes
  • Continue reading anything and everything you can
  • Hit the books and bump up your GPA as high as possible

Summer

  • Volunteer at least 100 hours, get a job, and/or take a summer program
  • Visit more colleges
  • Study for upcoming classes and the SAT/ACT/PSAT
  • Keep having fun!

Juniors

Applying for college earlier increases your chances of admission by close to 25%. Start everything (advanced classes, volunteering, organizations, saving money, etc.) early and never fall behind! Speaking of preparing, students spend less than an average of 10 hours studying for the SAT/ACT. Get ahead of the crowd and find test-prep to knock your college application out of the park!

Fall

  • Meet with your counselor for a college list
  • Focus this year to really solidify a strong GPA
  • Network with teachers and other leaders to get recommendations
  • Research/sign up for SAT/ACT prep
  • Take the PSAT again

Spring

  • Obtain positions of leadership in your school and activities
  • Attend even more college fairs
  • Determine your college major
  • Apply for any scholarships
  • Take the SAT/ACT and any subject/AP exams

Summer

  • Volunteer at least 100 hours, continue working, and/or take a summer program
  • Visit even more colleges
  • Finalize college list
  • Start writing college application essays
  • Save time for some well-deserved fun and relaxation!

Seniors

When you apply for college, admissions officers will look at these on your application: GPA and coursework, test scores (SAT, PSAT, ACT, etc.), extracurricular activities (sports, clubs, volunteering, internships, etc.), recommendations, and your college essay. Every part of your “resume” should be the best it can be. Utilize all the resources you have at your disposal and do your best!

Fall

  • Maintain great grades – this is the home stretch!
  • Ask teachers/counselors/others for recommendations well in advance
  • Take the SAT/ACT again
  • Polish your college application essays
  • Apply to schools and scholarships with early/fall deadlines
  • Continue leadership positions, volunteering, and extracurricular work

Spring

  • Apply to any remaining colleges
  • Prepare for interviews, if applicable
  • Submit financial aid forms
  • Visit colleges you’ve been accepted to
  • Choose a college and submit the deposit
  • Finish your high school career strong, congrats!

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