How to Start Planning for College in 11th Grade
You’re now a high school junior! It’s time to step up your college planning game and make sure you’re on track for applying to colleges.
College planning tasks you can do before winter break (September–December):
- Make a list of what you’re interested in studying and explore career ideas
- Learn about colleges and save schools you’re interested in to your College Board account
- Make an appointment with your counselor to ask about upcoming college fairs and which college representatives are visiting your high school
- Browse the college brochures and catalogs in your counselor’s office—you might find a college you haven’t thought of
- Ask your counselor or a teacher about taking the PSAT/NMSQT scheduled in October
- Manage your college search, test scores, and application statuses by saving information in your College Board account
- If you’re looking at visual and performing arts majors, some colleges require a portfolio or audition, so look into the Major and Career Search tool and find out how you need to prepare
- Estimate how much college might cost and how much financial aid you may need with our free Tools & Calculators
- Register to take the SAT and practice on Khan Academy® for free
- Register for AP Exams for the courses you’re enrolled in this school year. Check with your AP teacher or coordinator about your school’s registration deadline.
- A score of 3 or higher can get you college credit at more colleges than ever before. Check out the credit policies at the schools you’re interested in.
- Complete college planning steps on Big Future for a chance to win Big Future Scholarships for $500 or $40,000
College planning tasks you can do before the school year ends (January–May):
- If you’re considering military academies or ROTC scholarships, you should begin the application process the summer before your senior year
- Continue to build your college list and explore schools by type, housing options, majors, sports, student organizations, cost, and more
- Take the SAT or consider retaking the SAT
- Learn 3 different ways of getting financial aid and get a copy of your family’s tax returns
- If you’re considering playing sports in college as a student-athlete, make sure the NCAA® gets your SAT score and ask your counselor to upload your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center
- Check out our College Planning Checklist for Student-Athletes for more information
- Take the AP Exams you registered for to show colleges that you’re committed and motivated to succeed
College planning tasks you can do in the summer and before beginning your senior year (June–August):
- Find a full-time job, part-time job, or internship to gain work experience
- If you can, visit college campuses, attend an information session or a campus tour, and make sure you talk to current students or professors while you’re there
- Create a résumé so you have a record of your academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and work experience
- Brag about your achievements!
Visit bigfuture.org for more free, comprehensive college planning resources.