Parents’ Timeline for a College-Bound Freshman

Freshman Timeline

Table of Contents

Parents’ Timeline for a College-Bound Freshman

We have created the most comprehensive timeline available. If you think your teen would benefit from any part of this, please direct them to the appropriate year of the “Student Timeline” under “Student Resources.” The same information is there but directed specifically to the student. 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

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

Personal Development

  • Students should keep all their social media accounts positive and clean. Expect college admissions officers to look them up during the application process.
  • Students need to develop a plan to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. They should define their values and purpose in life. 87% of 16 to 29-year-olds say they have no purpose. Very sad stat!
  • Students should work on improving their time-management skills and eliminating bad habits. Time management is one of the main struggles of first-year college students. The sooner they perfect their skills, the better.
  • Students should spend their summers productively. They need to apply for summer internships, job shadowing, college camps, etc. Students should ask professionals about their jobs. Do they like what they do? How much education is required? They should be bold in asking if they can shadow these professionals for a few days sometime in the future.
  • Students should seek every opportunity to take career assessments to narrow down the areas that fit their skills.
  • Students need to develop the skill of writing thank-yous to show gratitude: a much-admired trait. They should order thank-you notes with their first and last names on them.

Extracurricular Pursuits

Application Awareness

  • The family needs to keep good records in a safe place of activities, jobs, awards, honors, etc. Start from the summer before the student’s freshman year. Keep an activities journal.
  • The family needs to visit universities in the area and places they travel to over the summer.
  • Students need to make an effort to get to know their teachers and the faculty. They will be asking some of them to write recommendation letters for their college applications, so they need to know the student well.

Financial Awareness

We encourage students to finish their year strong and sign up for challenging courses for their sophomore year.
We commend students for starting this process early. They will see some of these suggestions repeated in the full timeline
for those who did not begin preparing in freshman year.


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