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College Planning Guide (ICAN)

JUNIOR COUNTDOWN TO COLLEGE

AUGUST

  • Obtain dates and locations of college fairs and "parent nights" in your area. You can check the ICAN presentation calendar at www.ICANsucceed.org/calendar.
  • Keep your grades up. Colleges look at your overall GPA through all 4 years of high school.
  • Review your college savings plan; start saving money if you haven't done so already.
  • Talk to your parents and your school counselor about where you want to go to college.
  • Research careers at www.ICANsucceed.org/researchcareers.

SEPTEMBER

  • Determine what factors are important to you in a college. Go to www.ICANsucceed.org/explore for information on choosing a college.
  • Review college and career resources at your high school.

OCTOBER

  • Consider taking the ACTs. (For more information on the ACTs, follow the "Resources" link on the left side of this page.)
  • Attend a college fair and talk with college representatives to start researching potential colleges. (We will also be doing this at ILCC in April.

NOVEMBER

  • Attend an ICAN College Planning Night at your school. (CCE is hosting a College Planning and Financial Aid Night on November 12 at 6:15 and 7:30)
  • Review websites from colleges that interest you. Also, visit with College Admission Counselors when they visit your school during the Fall and Spring.
  • Start planning to take the ACT exam, if required. Familiarize yourself with registration deadlines and test dates. Check colleges' entrance requirements to see which test(s) you need to take. Take advantage of online test preparation such as practice exams and study guides. (www.actstudent.org; also follow the "Resource" link on the left side of the page.)

DECEMBER

  • Research scholarships. Keep an ongoing file of scholarships and financial aid information. Check out www.ICANsucceed.org/scholarships for free scholarship searches. Avoid scholarship searches that charge fees.
  • Meet with college representatives at your school and keep looking at colleges online.
  • Register now if you're planning on taking the February ACT. 

JANUARY

  • Begin scheduling college visits.
  • Organize scholarship information by deadline. Keep a calendar with application deadlines so you don't miss any.
  • Become familiar with the financial aid process and forms. Visit www.ICANsucceed.org/payforcollege.

FEBRUARY

  • Keep saving money for college!
  • Make sure you enroll in senior classes that fulfill the credits you need for college. 
  • Put together a resume listing your activities, volunteer experiences, academic achievements, and employment. 
  • Register now for the April ACT if you plan to take it.

MARCH

  • It's time to schedule college visits. During each visit, meet with the admissions and financial aid offices. Download a helpful checklist at www.ICANsucceed.org.

APRIL

  • Compare your impressions of each college and rank them according to preference.
  • Continue to search for scholarships.
  • Register now for June ACTs. 

MAY

  • Narrow your choices to five or fewer and highlight the important features at each.
  • Consider taking a summer course at a local college.
  • Find a summer job related to your career interest or do community service.
  • Polish your resume; if required, assemble writing samples, a portfolio or audition tape.

JUNE

  • If you haven't visited all the colleges on your list, schedule visits. 
  • Begin completing private scholarship applications. 
  • Save your summer earnings to pay for college.
  • Serve your community - grades aren't the only thing colleges evaluate.
  • Prospective student athletes: ask your school counselor to send an official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center.

JULY

  • Obtain college admission applications, and learn what they require.
  • Prepare for your senior year.
  • Consider which teachers, employers, or other adults you'll ask to write letter of recommendation.
  • Create a spending plan. It's easy to get in over your head. Talk with your parents to consider your options or learn more at www.ICANsucceed.org/budgeting.


SENIOR COUNTDOWN TO COLLEGE

AUGUST

  • Decide which colleges best suit you and your career interests.
  • Find information on admission, scholarships, and financial aid for the top schools you are considering.
  • Select at least 5 colleges to visit, if you haven't done so already.
  • Research military education benefits, if you're interested.

SEPTEMBER

  • Visit your school counselor about application deadlines, local or state scholarships, and grants.
  • Register now to take ACT, if you haven't done so already (follow the link on the left side of the page for more information on the ACT).
  • Meet with college admission counselors when they visit your high school.
  • Ask adults to write letters of recommendation for your admission and scholarship applications.
  • Begin writing essays for your admission applications, if required.

OCTOBER

  • Talk to admission counselors at the colleges you're applying to and find out whether retaking the ACT would be advantageous.
  • Be wary of scholarship search and financial aid companies that charge a fee. Find free services at www.ICANsucceed.org/scholarships.
  • Begin submitting your admission applications to the colleges you're interested in. Be aware of deadlines! Try to have your applications submitted by November 1st.
  • Search for scholarship and grant opportunities.

NOVEMBER

  • Obtain financial aid forms from colleges that require forms other than FAFSA.
  • Start thinking about how campus life will be different than living at home.
  • Attend a financial aid presentation with your parents. Ask your school counselor when presentations take place. CCE IS HOLDING A "COLLEGE PLANNING" AND "FINANCIAL AID" NIGHT ON NOVEMBER 12, 2015.
  • Finalize your college admission applications.
  • Research college scholarships days and deadlines at the schools you've applied to. Fill out any additional scholarship forms before the deadline.

DECEMBER

  • Continue to look for grants and scholarships. 
  • Stay focused! Grades in your senior year can affect college admittance.
  • Visit www.pin.ed.gov to get a personal identification number for your financial aid form. Print a list of items you need to fill out the FAFSA at www.ICANsucceed.org/fafsachecklist.

JANUARY

  • Submit your completed FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible.
  • Remember to keep copies of all forms you submit to colleges and agencies.
  • Ask your school counselor to send your 1st semester transcripts to your top colleges.
  • Parents: Get your federal income tax returns prepared early. Colleges may request copies.
  • Need help filing a FAFSA? ICAN can help. Call (877) 272-4692 to schedule an appointment.
  • Watch the mail for acceptance letters.
  • Send in college housing applications.

FEBRUARY

  • Confirm that the colleges you've applied to have received your 1st semester transcripts. 
  • Submit your FAFSA, if you haven't done so already.
  • Keep your grades up! 2nd semester grades are important and can affect scholarship eligibility and college admittance.

MARCH

  • Watch for your Student Aid Report (SAR). Check that it lists all the colleges requiring receipt of your FAFSA. 
  • Be prepared to submit a copy of your federal tax forms to the college(s) of your choice.
  • Find out whether you need to submit any additional financial aid verification forms. 
  • Begin making plans for a summer job.
  • Ask your school counselor about local scholarships. 

APRIL

  • Compare the financial aid packages from colleges. 
  • Decide which college you'll attend. Send the required deposit, and sign and return the financial aid award letter, if required. Note other important deadlines (financial aid, student housing, etc)
  • Tell other colleges you won't be attending. 
  • If you're securing a student loan, complete the required promissory note. 
  • Prospective student athletes: Review your amateurism questionnaire at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net and request final certification.

MAY

  • Finalize your summer job plans.
  • Ask your school counselor to send your final transcript to the college you'll be attending.
  • Return all necessary documents, including financial aid forms, to your college.
  • CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION!!! 

JUNE

  • Notify the college about any scholarships you receive.
  • Save money from your summer job. Your savings will help with college expenses. 
  • Attend orientation sessions to meet people, get familiar with the campus, and register for classes.
  • Prepare a budget for college and review it with your parents. 

JULY

  • Check out our "College Packing List" to help make packing less of a chore. Contact your roommate and decide who's bringing what so you don't pack the same items.
  • Thank your family and friends for their support.
  • Continue your success in college; sign up for the ICAN e-newsletter at www.ICANsucceed.org/ignite.