Creating Your Personal College Application Timeline

At College Coach, we don’t believe in cookie-cutter strategies. Instead, our highly personalized approach recognizes that every student is unique and that each requires an individualized plan for college admissions. When families ask us when they should start using college consultants, our answer is “as soon as you are beginning to think about college admissions.”  This way, our experts can take the time to get to know you and tailor an individual approach that fits in with your goals, interests, and priorities. Here’s an idea of what you can expect during your partnership with a College Coach expert:

Freshman Year   Sophomore Year   Junior Year   Senior Year

How to Prepare for College as a Freshman in High School

Freshman Fall

Work with your College Coach expert to assess your options, make appropriate curriculum choices, and maximize the value of your high school coursework by choosing upper-level classes in your subject areas of strength.

Now is also the time to explore and pursue your extracurricular interests. Your College Coach advisor can help you brainstorm ideas. Love animals? Volunteer at the local shelter or shadow a veterinarian. Want to rule the world? Run for student government. Plan to spend college learning more about artificial intelligence? Join the robotics club. Identifying extracurricular activities you can get excited about now will help you develop depth and ascend into leadership positions later in high school. Don’t be afraid to try out multiple options and see what sticks.

Freshman Spring

Assess the success of your first high school semester. How did you do? Can you do more or should you scale back? Confirm curriculum choices for the rest of this year and start thinking about classes for next.

Now is also the time to think about how to spend your summer. Look to your College Coach expert for guidance on challenging academic programs tailored to your interests, resources for finding internships or jobs to develop new skills, or advice on exploring other productive endeavors.

Freshman Summer

Time to review your freshman academic record. Assess your success and look for adjustments that need to be made to your sophomore schedule.

Start visiting local college campuses. These are not official visits, but simply ways to get a feel for different campuses: small versus large, urban versus suburban or rural. Talk to your College Coach educational consultant about how to maximize these visits.

Once you’ve started seeing some schools, you’ll be ready for a more substantive discussion about choosing the right colleges for you. College Coach clients have been accepted to more than 600 different colleges in the past three years, so you can be sure that our team will help you find the schools that make the most sense for you.

Summer check-ins give you the opportunity to touch base on summer activities and continue to explore your unique positioning for your college applications.

How to Prepare for College as a Sophomore in High School

Sophomore Fall

As your second year of high school begins, you and your College Coach educational consultant will check in periodically to talk about academic progress and identify opportunities for growth. Of course, we’re always available to answer the questions that will inevitably come up throughout the year.

Now is the time to think about taking the PSAT or PLAN, if either is offered by your school or in your community. Your College Coach expert will discuss the value of early exposure to standardized tests and work with you to develop an appropriate testing timeline so that there are no surprises later on.

Discuss your second semester schedule to ensure that you’re maximizing rigor and choosing electives tailored to your interests.

Throughout the semester, your College Coach educational consultant will help you develop depth in your extracurricular interests and think through the best possible contributions you can make to your community.

Sophomore Spring

This is the last semester before you’re an upperclassman. You and your College Coach consultant will check in periodically to discuss academic progress and make a plan for your junior year schedule.

We’ll also assist with summer plans. Our team knows which programs and experiences admissions officers consider significant, and we’ll help you make impactful choices.

Sophomore Summer

Time to review your sophomore year academic record and look for adjustments that need to be made to your junior year schedule.

As your understanding of the college selection process develops, your college visits become more significant. Before each visit, we’ll help you think about what you want to investigate and how best to gather key information.

How to Prepare for College as a Junior in High School

Junior Fall

The all-important third year of high school begins. You and your College Coach advisor will check in periodically to track academic progress and identify opportunities for growth. We expect that you will also check in with questions and to get help developing strategies to deal with unforeseen challenges.

The standardized testing calendar starts to heat up this year. Expect to devote significant time to preparing. During the following months, we will discuss your options for testing and revisit the timeline for your official SAT, ACT, and, if applicable, SAT Subject Tests.

As the semester gets underway, we’ll review your spring schedule to ensure it maximizes rigor appropriate to your situation and includes electives tailored to your interests.

Additional discussions will focus on how to develop depth in your extracurricular interests, what kind of community service to pursue, and which teachers to ask for recommendations. Your College Coach advisor will consider all of these elements and help you understand what admissions officers wish to see in each.

Junior Spring

As your official SAT and ACT results become available, your College Coach expert will help you think through a strategy for future testing. If necessary, you’ll get advice on your choice of SAT Subject Tests.

With the college search poised to get into full swing, your advisor will guide you through a customized set of questions to collect your preferences and priorities. College Coach’s list team will then hand pick 30-40 recommended schools that meet your criteria and sort them into three selectivity categories: Challenging, Just Right, and No Problem. Your College Coach expert will meet with you to discuss the list and identify next steps and strategies for future campus visits.

Now is the time to start thinking about your college essays and to begin brainstorming ideas for possible topics. As former senior admissions officers with decision-making experience at some of the nation’s most selective schools, we know what topics to avoid and how to finesse difficult circumstances. Your College Coach expert will share techniques for setting the proper tone so you stand out from the crowd. College Coach consultants often use the entire team for feedback, so your essays will be sure to represent you in the best possible manner.

An important task this semester will be to think about letters of recommendation. Look to your College Coach expert for help deciding how and which teachers to ask in order to obtain the best possible letter of support.

Check in with your College Coach advisor to review your curricular choices for senior year and finalize your plans for summer.

If you choose, a College Coach finance expert will review your college selection list to identify college-specific scholarship opportunities and pertinent essay topics for your scholarship applications.

Junior Summer

With the homestretch just ahead, this is the time for in-depth research into your college choices. Your College Coach expert will partner with you to help narrow down your list and, if appropriate, to consider strategies for applying Early Decision and Early Action. You’ll also review your SAT Subject Test results and discuss a strategy for any future testing.

How to Prepare for College as a Senior in High School

Senior Fall

Application time! Your College Coach expert will prompt you to inventory the college-specific essays you will be required to write and to ensure you understand exactly how much writing awaits.

You will also finalize the list of schools to which you will apply and set a schedule for application completion and submission. If appropriate, you will discuss which schools you will apply to Early Action or Early Decision and how to meet those deadlines.

At this time, your College Coach expert will review all the applications – including the Common Application and those specific to individual colleges – and provide feedback on drafts of the all-important essay. Your expert will provide suggestions for improvements and be available to work with you until your essays represent your best effort.

Last steps include a review of your activities or athletic resume. If you choose, a College Coach finance expert will review scholarship and grant opportunities as well as financial aid application deadlines and requirements.

Senior Spring

Time to celebrate! Your College Coach experts will share the joy as your acceptances and scholarship offers start rolling in.