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College Counseling

Online Resources

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Things to consider each step of the way

Freshman Year

It’s your freshman year, and it all counts now. Use your survival skills” to build a successful first year in high school. If you do that, you will be laying a solid foundation for high school and creating a strong bridge to college.
  • Get involved in extra-curricular activities. Join clubs, sports, and volunteer groups that truly interest you.
  • Get yourself a resume. This will help you when you are applying for summer programs and can be a checklist of your student career.
  • Become familiar with high school graduation requirements.
  • Read as much as you can for leisure.
  • Talk to other students about college planning.
  • Come to listen and question representatives from colleges which might be of interest to you.
  • Take an occupational interest inventory to start investigating possible careers.
  • Take the Differential Aptitude Test and compare it with the occupational interest inventory.

Sophomore Year

  • Register for the college prep course and begin compiling your college/university portfolio.
  • Find out what resources are available in your high school to help you plan for college.
  • Take another occupational interest inventory available in the counseling office.
  • Plan on taking the PSAT in your sophomore year. It will give you valuable information as to how you compare to college-bound students.
  • Check your GPA.
  • Plan the courses that you will be taking during the junior and senior years. Investigate honors and advanced placement possibilities.
  • Start to make a list of activities that you have been involved in.
  • Look at some of the video tape selections regarding university life available in the library.
  • Attend college fairs and college representative meetings when possible.
  • Read as much as you can for leisure.

Junior Year

  • Begin college selection process.
  • Attend college fairs, financial aid seminars, general information sessions, etc. to learn as much as you can about the college application process.
  • Make sure that you are meeting NCAA requirements if you want to play Division I or II sports in college.


  • Register for the October PSAT
  • Meet with your counselor to review your courses for this year and plan your schedule for senior year.
  • Save samples of your best work for your academic portfolio (all year).
  • Maintain your co-curricular record (all year).


Take the PSAT. Junior year PSAT scores may qualify a student for the National Merit Scholarship Competition, the National Achievement and the National Hispanic Scholars Programs. So, even though these scores will not be used for college admission, it is still a good idea to take the PSAT. The more times you take standardized tests, the more familiar you will become with the format and the types of questions asked. If you wish to receive free information from colleges, indicate on the PSAT test answer form that you want to participate in the Student Search.


  • Keep those grades up! Junior year grades are extremely important in the college admission process, because they are a measure of how well you do in advanced, upper-level courses. Grades also are used to determine scholarships and grants for which you may be eligible. So put in the extra effort and keep those grades up!
  • If you will require financial aid, start researching your options for grants, scholarships and work-study programs. Make an appoint with your counselor, or start by visiting NACAC's Web Resources for the College-Bound to do research on your own using the Internet.


  • During December you should receive the results of your PSAT. Read your score report and consult your counselor to determine how you might improve on future standardized tests. The PSAT is excellent preparation for the SAT I, which you will take in spring.
  • When you begin to explore different colleges and universities, double-check to see if they prefer or require the ACT, the SAT I and/or the SAT II.


  • Begin to make a preliminary list of colleges you would like to investigate further. Surf the Internet, and use the college resources in the guidance office or library.
  • Ask your parents for your Social Security number (required for US citizens on application and financial aid forms). If you were never issued a Social Security number, contact the US Embassy as soon as possible to obtain the information on the application process.


  • Meet with your counselor to discuss your preliminary list of colleges. Discuss where your initial list of colleges meets your needs and interest (academic program, size, location, costs, etc.) and whether you are considering colleges where you are likely to be admitted . You should be optimistic and realistic when applying to colleges.
  • Plan to take the SAT I in May or June. Prepare for the SAT I or ACT by signing up for a prep course, using computer software, or doing the SAT/ACT practice tests available in the counseling office or at bookstores. But don't spend so much time trying to improve standardized test scores that grades and cocurricular involvement suffer.


Write, telephone, or use the Internet to request admission literature and financial aid information from the colleges on your list. There is no charge and no obligation to obtain general information about admission and financial aid.


  • When selecting your senior courses, be sure to continue to challenge yourself academically.
  • Register for the May/June SAT I and/or the May/June SAT II: Subject Tests. Not all SAT II Subject Tests are given on every test date. Check the calendar carefully to determine when the Subject Tests you want are offered.
  • Continue to evaluate your list of colleges and universities. Eliminate colleges from the original list that no longer interest you and add others as appropriate.
  • Look into summer jobs or apply for special summer academic or enrichment programs. Colleges love to see students using their knowledge and developing their skills and interests.


  • Get a jump start on summer activities--consider enrolling in an academic course at a local college, pursuing a summer school program, applying for an internship, working, or volunteering. If you work, save part of your earnings for college.
  • Begin visiting colleges. Phone to set up appointments. Interviews are always a good idea. Many colleges will tell you they are optional, but an interview will show interest, enthusiasm and initiative on your part and provide an excellent opportunity to have your questions answered. Do a practice interview with your counselor, teacher, employer, or a senior who has had college interviews. Set up interviews as early as possible; interview times become booked quickly!
  • Take the SAT I and the SAT II.


  • After school ends, get on the road to visit colleges. Seeing the college firsthand, taking a tour and talking to students can be the greatest help in deciding whether or not a school is right for you. Although it is ideal to visit colleges during the academic year, going in the summer will be valuable. Admission offices employ their students to give tours and answer questions from prospective students and their parents.
  • Take the SAT I and the SAT II.


Visit colleges, take tours, have interviews and ask questions. Make college visiting a family event. Involve your parents and siblings in every step of your application process. Choosing the right college is a tough decision; the opinions of those who know you best can provide helpful insight into which college is best for you.


  • Continue to refine your list of potential colleges and universities.
  • Begin preparing for the actual application process: draft application essays, collect writing samples, and assemble portfolios or audition tapes. If you are an athlete and plan on playing in college, contact the coaches at the schools to which you are applying and ask about intercollegiate and intramural sports programs and athletic scholarships.
  • Complete the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse form if you hope to play Division I or II sports. (This form cannot be mailed until you finish your sixth semester of high school. )

Senior Year

Senior Year Calendar Please note that these are the major deadlines/important dates. Students are responsible for checking each university for specific deadlines pertaining to the universities where they are applying. Specific deadlines for SAT I and SAT II are posted in the Office. Monthly College Deadlines and Important Dates


  • Schedule meeting with your Counselor and finalize your list of colleges/universities.
  • Make sure you have current application forms.
  • Check with individual colleges/universities for application financial aid forms.
  • Register for TOEFL. Remember the TOEFL is now given only five times a year in Costa Rica.
  • Request letters of recommendation from teachers and submit transcript requests to your Counselor well in advance of deadlines and in an appropriate manner.
  • Don't forget: Registration deadline for October SAT I or SAT II.
  • You should begin to file FAFSA Profile (USA and foreign students application for financial aid).
  • Don't forget: Registration deadline for November SAT I or SAT II.


  • Early Action/Decision due 3 weeks prior to actual deadline.
  • Send early applications for some state universities.
  • Registration deadline for November SAT I or SAT II.
  • Submit to your College Counselor a list of college applications to be sent with the corresponding deadlines.
  • SAT I and SAT II will be administered at Lincoln School or CRIA.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your academic teachers. Choose instructors who know you well. Give the teacher information on the type of program and school you are interested in so the letter is best suited for you. Offer to obtain envelopes or letterhead from the secretary. The letters will be returned to you sealed, with a school stamp and either initials or the signature across the sealed portion of the envelope. It is not required or common for a teacher to show the student the actual letter.


  • Fill out applications for USA (the earlier the better at most state universities, all California state universities, and rolling admissions).
  • Complete the UCAS Application for UK Universities
  • Check to be sure all teacher recommendations and transcript requests have been turned in to the College Counselor.
  • SAT I and SAT II will be administered at Lincoln School or CRIA.
  • Early decision/early action deadlines begin Nov. 1 for USA.

November 30:

Application deadlines for many California state universities (check individual schools for their deadlines).  

“Oops! The 20 Most Common College Freshman Mistakes”

Here is a wealth of information and advice about the common mistakes freshmen make, and how to best avoid them and be successful. Different sections cover academic, financial, and personal issues, with an extra section dedicated to correcting any mistakes already made: https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/freshman-mistakes/