College Preparation Tips – Staying on Track

Califonia Financial Aid Workshops

The second semester of the school year has begun.  Read this post for quick and easy college preparation tips to help your student stay on track as you prepare to apply for college.  Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, these tips will help you focus on things to get done during this upcoming semester.  For the best results, read the tips each year, no matter which class you are in currently (unless you are a Senior).

College preparation tips for everyone no matter which year of High School

1)    If you have not yet done so, create an email account to be used for your college and scholarship communications.  The email should be professional and easy to remember.
2)    Create contact cards (just like a business card) with your name and college email address on it.  Optionally include a photo on the card.  The purpose of the contact card is so that you have something to give to people i.e. admissions officers or possible scholarship contacts with your contact information.  You can print them at home using business card stock. Link:  Business Card Stock at

3)    Try to book community service hours during the summer.  While not discounting the help needed at local food banks, don’t forget to look beyond this source of community service hours.  For example, if you participate in a sport, look for non-profits that teach kids how to play that sport.  If you like to sew, bake or do handicrafts, look for non-profits that provide those types of services.

4) As always – scholarships, scholarships and scholarships.  Upromise!

 College Preparation Tips for High School Seniors

1) Stay on top of your grades, deadlines and keep in touch with admission and financial aid counselors. Colleges can revoke admission if your grades drop. And missing a deadline can cost you financial aid, admission or housing.

2) Coordinate with your parents for submission of FAFSA forms and state grant forms. Whether or not you expect to qualify for Federal financial aid (FAFSA), you must submit the FAFSA form in order to be eligible for a number of state grants, and financial aid from colleges and universities.  Look for FAFSA and financial aid workshops in your area.  Click here to visit the California Cash for College site to locate a workshop near you. 

College Preparation Tips - California Financial Aid Workshops
College Preparation Tips – California Financial Aid Workshops


Be aware of the FAFSA and financial aid deadlines for your specific schools as those deadlines may differ from the national or state deadlines.  For example 2015, FAFSA submission deadline is March 2, USC’s deadline is February 13.

FAFSA information video from

College Preparation Tips for High School Juniors

1) Begin your list of colleges.  Work with your parents to schedule visits at the college campus (if possible).

2) Find and attend college fairs.  This is a great way to get on the radar of colleges that hold your interest.  Don’t forget the private schools.

3) Register for your SAT or ACT test.  This test is best taken between the end of your junior year and the beginning of your senior year of high school.  Why? Less pressure and fewer distractions –  think AP classes, college admission forms, senior year activities.

4) Start your list of teachers and mentors for letters of recommendation.

5) Check your classes for next year, are you on track for not only graduation but the classes you need for the colleges you want?

Want a taste college?  Contact your local jr. college to determine what summer classes you can attend.

College Preparation Tips for High School Sophomores

1) Update your list of honors, awards, volunteer hours and extracurricular activities.

2) Stay on top of your grades.  When applying for college, the sophomore grades counts.  If you didn’t get the grades that you needed/expected last semester, then use this as a teaching moment, work with your teachers and parents to determine how to improve your grades and study better.  Look for free homework help and tutoring services at your local library.

College Preparation Tips for High School Freshman

1) If you haven’t yet done so, sign up for CSU Mentor.  CSUMentor is a website designed to help students and their families learn about the California State University (CSU) system. But whether or not you are interested in CSU schools, the site offers a tracker for specific high school courses (referred to as the “a-g” courses) needed in order to apply for most, if not all colleges/universities.

2) Begin your list of honors, awards, volunteer hours and extracurricular activities.

I am sure that there is more, please share your tips in our comments section!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.