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Published Sep. 17, 2009

Freshmen and sophomores

Meet your guidance counselor.

Take the hardest classes you can. Get on track for the alphabet soup course load: AP, IB, DE.

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Get a calendar. Write down all important test dates and deadlines.

Check out schools that interest you. Assemble brochures and other information in one place.

Meet with your guidance counselor to plan your scholarship and financial aid search.

Load up on community service hours.

Take the SAT and/or ACT early so you can retake if needed.

Take SAT-II subject tests and AP exams.

Plan some campus visits.

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Narrow your list of colleges to between five and 10. Collect applications, tour campuses.

Ask for recommendations. Give each person your resume, a stamped, addressed envelope, any required forms and a deadline.

Write application essays.

Early admissions deadlines fall in early November.

Retake the SAT if necessary.


Most applications are due between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15.

Have your high school send your transcript.

Remind your parents to save pay stubs and financial information to estimate income on aid forms.

Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Florida Financial Aid Application as early in January as possible. This can take hours, so don't put it off. You'll need your parents' most recent tax return.

Many priority financial aid deadlines are in February. To get the most aid, apply by the priority date.


Check your e-mail. Acceptance and financial aid offers should arrive by mid-April.

If you haven't already, visit your college.

You must accept or reject most offers by May 1. Send in your deposit.

Don't slack off in class. Colleges want to see your second-semester grades.


Ask your high school to send a final transcript to your college.

Finalize housing.

Attend orientation.

Start packing!