Freshman Timeline for College Applications

Freshman Timeline for High School Students

Freshman Timeline for the College Application Process


We have created the most comprehensive timeline available.

Some of our resource links are repeated because they help in several categories

and apply for more than one year. Go here for over 100 resources:


+100 College Flight Plan Resources





Academic Preparation

  • Practice good study habits and work hard to keep your GPA high. You do not want to spend the next three years trying to improve your poor freshman-year grades.
  • Get help from tutors in classes where you are struggling. Catch it early, especially in math and foreign languages.
  • Check with your college counselor to ensure you meet all the college-bound requirements. Your school’s college counselor has many students to help prepare for the application process. Don’t wait for them to come to you. The national student-to-counselor ratio is 424:1, and in California, it is 900:1. The recommended ratio is 200:1.
  • If you plan to play a sport in college, research the requirements of the NCAA.
  • Research the practice PSAT that will take place in October of your sophomore year. Take a practice test before to know what to expect. This test is vital to prepare for the actual PSAT in your junior year, which can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
  • Practice taking the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.  Here are the books and courses we recommend.
  • Ask your counselor if you qualify to take AP (Advanced Placement) courses.

Personal Development

  • Keep all your social media accounts positive and clean. Expect college admissions officers to look you up in the future.
  • Develop a plan to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Define your values and purpose in life. 87% of 17 to 29-year-olds say they have no purpose. Find yours!
  • Improve your time management skills and eliminate bad habits. Time management is one of the main struggles of first-year college students. The sooner you perfect your skills, the better.
  • Spend your summers productively. Apply for summer internships, job shadowing, college camps, etc. Ask professionals about their jobs. Do they like what they do? How much education is required? Ask if you can shadow them for a few days sometime in the future.
  • Take career assessments to narrow the areas that fit your skills.
  • Order thank-you notes with your full name on them. Develop the skill of writing thank-yous to show gratitude: a much-admired trait.

Extracurricular Pursuits

Application Awareness

  • Keep good records in a safe place of activities, jobs, awards, honors, etc. Start from the summer before your freshman year. Keep an activities journal.
  • Visit universities in your area and places you travel to over the summer.
  • Get to know your teachers and the faculty. You will be asking some of them to write recommendation letters for your college applications, so they need to know you.

Financial Awareness

Finish your year strong and sign up for challenging courses for your sophomore year.
Good for you for starting this process early. You will see some of these suggestions repeated in this full timeline for those who did not begin preparing in freshman year.

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