College & Career Readiness
IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY OR TOO LATE TO PLAN FOR COLLEGE OR A CAREER
Use these check lists to stay on track and work toward your future goals.
FRESHMAN, GRADES COUNT! Keep your GPA up. Your GPA and class rank are the most important factor in college admissions, so set aside time for homework, develop your study skills, and make sure that you get good grades. Get tutoring if you need it (schedule will be added when tutoring hours are determined).
TAKE THE RIGHT CLASSES
Create a four-year high school plan. Make sure you know which high school courses are required by colleges, and that you’re taking the right classes. You can ask your counselor about what those “right” classes are. A-G requirements. Look into the Career Pathways that TBHS offers.(A-G Requirements) (CTE Pathways)
EXPLORE EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Other than your grades and test scores, your extracurricular activities probably have the biggest influence on the quality of your college applications. Colleges, especially top colleges, want their students to have exceptional achievements outside of the classroom, and they’re looking for individuals who use their leisure time to pursue their passions. The 9th grade is the perfect year to try new extracurricular activities. Now is the time to explore different activities that might interest you. At this point, you don’t have to deeply commit to any of the activities, but you won’t know if you’re passionate about a club, organization, or community service project unless you check them out! (TBHS Athletics)
If you’re interested in playing college sports, make sure you research the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as early as your freshman year. The NCAA requires completion of certain core classes in high school for eligibility. Visit the NCAA Eligibility Center for more information.
SAVE FOR COLLEGE
Start saving money for college. It’s never too late or too early—every little bit helps. Find a job if you want or need one. A job can be a great way to save money for college, to build experience, and to make new friends. A job also looks good on your college applications. (Indeed)
KEEP YOUR GRADES UP
Sophomore year is a critical time for figuring out how to study, how to get good grades, and how to follow your academic passions. If you had any low grades last year, now is the time to turn your weaknesses into strengths so that you can be on track for having a great GPA. Consider working with a tutor if you need additional help (schedule will be added when tutoring hours are determined).
BEGIN PLANNING FOR YOUR JUNIOR YEAR
Meet with your counselor to discuss and create your junior class schedule. You should enroll in the most challenging courses. Also, make sure that you are on track to meet your academic requirements for college admissions such as foreign language requirements and AP requirements. (A-G Requirements) (CTE Pathways)
DEVELOP YOUR WRITING SKILLS
Developing your writing skills now will not only improve your grades in high school, but they will also help you write better college application essays and help you be more successful in college. Find an adult such as an English teacher or a professional tutor who can help you practice and improve your writing.(Story 2 College)
TAKE THE PSAT
California Colleges and Universities have eliminated the SAT and ACT for freshman applicants through the 2022-2023 academic year. The Military, private schools and out of state schools may still require it. Please make sure you check the website of the schools you are interested in applying to see if they require the ACT or SAT. While we advise you to take the PSAT in 10th grade as a trial run, your 11th grade year is the year that counts. The results from this PSAT test will determine if you are awarded National Merit Scholar status and ensuing scholarships. Review the year’s scheduled dates for SATs, ACTs, and SAT subject tests. (SAT/ACT Dates)
Sophomore year is the perfect year to figure out which extracurricular activities you love and to deepen your involvement. Remember, depth of involvement and leadership are more important for college admissions than the number of activities that you are involved in, so devote a little extra energy to the activities that excite you the most. (TBHS Athletics)
BECOME A LEADER
You should be seeking out leadership roles in the extracurricular activities that interest you. Even if no leadership roles are available now, you should find out which roles will be available in the upcoming year and start working towards them.
DEVELOP A RESUME
Begin developing a résumé and update it at least once per semester. This list of extracurricular activities, awards, accomplishments, and work experience will be helpful when you fill out your college applications. (Writing a Resume)
Use online tools to learn about career paths, projected income levels, how different college majors prepares you for careers, and more. If you are lost and you don’t know what you want to do, ask your school counselor for help. (YourFreeCareerTest)
COLLEGE TUITION COSTS
Begin educating yourself about college costs and about financial aid. Meet with your family and develop a plan together that will help you save for college and that will help all of you understand what financial aid is, where it comes from, and how you can apply for it. (FASFA)
LOOK FOR A JOB
Find a job if you want or need one. Many students find that a job can be a great way to build experience, to save money for college, and to make new friends. A job also looks good on your college applications.(Indeed)
Once 10th grade is over, you’re down to 18 months to prepare everything you need for college applications: top grades, top test scores, meaningful extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, plus a compelling application essay. It’s a lot of work, so it’s very important that you begin as soon as possible and have a set plan.
GPA IS YOUR TOP PRIORITY
Your junior year will most likely be the year you are taking the most AP and generally challenging classes. More than test prep, extracurricular activities, or letters of recommendation, your grades are the number one factor for college admissions, so you have to make your GPA your top priority. If your grades are slipping, reach out immediately for help from your teachers, guidance counselors, and tutoring. You must have a C or higher in your A-G courses to apply to UC or CSU schools (schedule will be added when tutoring hours are determined). (A-G requirements)
CONTINUE PURSUING EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Stay involved with extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in the non-academic activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles and making a commitment to the same groups are more important than trying out tons of new activities each year.
ATTEND COLLEGE FAIRS AND REP VISITS
Meet with college representatives when they visit your school. Attend College and Career Fairs throughout the year, they will be posted on the College and Career Center website.
TAKE THE SAT/ACT
California Colleges and Universities have eliminated the SAT and ACT for freshman applicants through the 2022-2023 academic year. The Military, private schools and out of state schools may still require it. Please make sure you check the website of the schools you are interested in applying to see if they require the ACT or SAT. While we advise you to take the PSAT in 10th grade as a trial run, your 11th grade year is the year that counts. The results from this PSAT test will determine if you are awarded National Merit Scholar status and ensuing scholarships. Review the year’s scheduled dates for SATs, ACTs, and SAT subject tests. Depending on your results, plan test dates so you can take the test twice before the start of senior year. Students should consider taking the SAT/ACT in the fall of senior year only if they feel they can do better than previous tests. (SAT/ACT Dates)
If you want to play Division I or II sports in college, start the certification process and check with your counselor to make sure you’re taking a core curriculum that meets NCAA requirements.(NCAA Eligibility Center)
EVALUATE YOUR EDUCATION OPTIONS
Now is the time to follow a more specific path. Continue to explore career options, how much education you’ll need and the earning potential. Decide whether you want to pursue full-time employment, further education or training (such as a vocational-technical school, career college, or two-year or four-year college), or a military career. If you’re interested in attending a military academy, talk to your school counselor about starting the application process now.
ORGANIZE YOUR COLLEGE INFORMATION
Set up a filing system with individual folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials. This will make it easier to locate the specific information you’re looking for. Create a professional email. When you create a new email address think about what it says about you as a person and a professional avoid cutesy or risqué email address. Think of it as your online identity and how it will sound in 10-15 years.
CREATE A COLLEGE LIST
You should create a preliminary college list that is a mixture of safety, target, and reach schools. Safety schools are colleges where your chance of admission is high. Target schools are more competitive colleges where your chance of admission is fair, and reach schools are highly competitive colleges where your chance of admission is smaller. Your list of colleges should include schools that meet your most important criteria (for example, size, location, cost, academic majors, or special programs). Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you and develop a preliminary ranking of the schools on your list. (CA Career Zone)
SELECT TEACHERS OR MENTORS FOR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
The strongest letters of recommendation come from teachers who know you well and are invested in your success, so get to know your teachers, especially those teaching subjects that match your academic interests. Asking your 11th grade teachers early in the second semester of your junior year also gives them plenty of time to write a thoughtful recommendation, rather than waiting until 12th grade, when they will likely have recommendation requests from many other students.
START WORKING ON YOUR APPLICATION AND ESSAYS
Start working on applications and essays over the summer. There is too much pressure once senior year begins and good essays need time for cultivation and revisions. Compose rough drafts of the essays you’ll need for your college applications. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you so you can see what to work on. Make any revisions and prepare final drafts. Don’t forget to proofread your final essays a few times.
APPLY FOR A SUMMER JOB OR INTERNSHIP
Summer employment and internships in fields you’re interested in will look appealing on a college application or resume. The money you earn can also be used to help pay application and testing fees in the fall.
SET UP APPOINTMENTS AT YOUR TOP COLLEGE CHOICES
You’ll often have to plan ahead when visiting colleges. Call the admissions office to set up a personal interview, tour, and a meeting with a professor or coach if you’re interested. (Virtual College Visits)
MAKE EARLY DECISION PREPARATIONS
If you plan to apply early decision to any school, take the time to visit the school again and make sure you’re willing to commit. If you elect to apply early decision, you should start working on your application as soon as possible because its deadline will be earlier than others.
Once senior year begins, college applications will be due in a few months and all your hard work inside and outside of the classroom is finally going to be put to the test. This is often a stressful time for students but staying organized throughout this process and following a strict college planning timeline will alleviate some of the pressure.
Before beginning your Senior year you should:
- Finalize your college list
- Write the first draft of your application essays
- Complete the SAT and ACT at least once
TO DO ALL YEAR
FOCUS ON YOUR GRADES
Colleges will continue to look at what you’ve done in your senior year after you’ve submitted your application. Maintain your GPA, You must have a C or higher in your A-G courses to apply to UC or CSU schools(schedule will be added when tutoring hours are determined). (A-G requirements)
DOUBLE CHECK YOUR TRANSCRIPTS
Before your school submits your transcripts to any college, you want to make sure they are, in fact, your transcripts. You also want to ensure that all of your credits appear and that they are accurate. Don’t assume that everything is correct – administration errors happen more often than you may think! You don’t want a clerical error to stand in the way of your future – or admission to the school of your dreams.
APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
It's important to stay focused on your scholarship applications. College is right around the corner—scholarship money will certainly come in handy and help you avoid unnecessary student loan debt. Make a plan to apply for at least one scholarship per week. If you can swing more applications, do it! (Scholarships)
FALL SEMESTER OF SENIOR YEAR
START UC APPLICATION
The University of California application for the 9 campuses opens August 1st. (UC Application)
ATTEND COLLEGE FAIRS AND REP VISITS
Meet with college representatives when they visit your school, they will be posted on the College and Career Center website. Attend College and Career Fairs throughout the year.
FINALIZE YOUR COLLEGE LIST
One of the most important steps of the college application process is drafting a healthy college list. Your college list should include a variety of schools including safety, match, and reach schools as well as different types of schools like liberal arts colleges and private out-of-state schools. The goal is to give yourself options to choose from after you receive admissions decisions from each college you apply to. You can learn more about a college by visiting their website, contacting the admissions offices, and speaking with current students.
BEGIN THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Depending on the schools you’re interested in applying to, you may use the Common Application, UC Application, CSU Application or apply directly on the school’s website. The Common App, UC App, and the CSU App allow you to insert personal and demographic information one time in order to send it to several colleges. You can get a head start on your applications by entering your preliminary information first. Then, as you start to gather more documents such as letters of recommendation and transcripts, you can then add them to your profile.
START CSU APPLICATION
The California State University application for the 23 campuses opens September 1st. (CSU Application)
CONTINUE WORKING ON APPLICATION ESSAYS
One of the most important parts of your application is the essay questions. While grades and test scores are important to colleges, they also are interested in knowing more about the applicant themselves as a person. Each college typically has its own set of personal essays that they want their applicants to complete. These essays are typically 250-300 words long and require a response on usually 1-2 of them. It’s important that you perfect your essays by proofreading them through the editing process. Also, take the time to ask others to read them. Extra sets of eyes on your writing can make all the difference in the world, especially on a body of writing you have been working so closely with.
GATHER APPLICATION MATERIALS
Several parts of your application will be submitted by someone other than you, so you want to ensure your teachers, counselor, and outside organizations are aware of the schools you’re applying to. Submit a request for your high school to send your transcripts to each college you’re applying to and contact your teachers and counselor a month in advance to request they write your letters of recommendation. Update your resume. If you haven't done so already, set up a professional email to use for your applications.
CONSIDER IF EARLY ADMISSION IS FOR YOU
Have you considered early decision, early action or rolling admissions yet? If not, it’s time to start thinking about it, deciding and applying now. It’s important to be aware that some of the decisions can be binding, such as early decision. You want to be certain that, when applying early decision, you’re ABSOLUTELY SURE you’ll want to attend this college if admitted. Early Decision Admission is contractually binding. There are plenty of pros and cons to early admissions, which you should evaluate before pursuing these routes. If you do decide that early admissions options are right for you, it’s time to work on your early applications. Many deadlines fall between October and November, so now is the time to focus on finishing up your early applications for submission.
Financial aid applications typically open on October 1. All students that intend on enrolling in college should complete the FAFSA regardless of whether or not they think they’ll receive aid. Allocate sufficient time with your parent or guardian to complete the financial aid applications required by the schools you’re applying to. (FAFSA) (CADA)
It is imperative that you complete standardized tests at least one time before beginning senior year. If you’re unhappy or would like to improve your SAT and ACT scores before submitting your college applications, register for the SAT and/or ACT test dates at the very beginning of the fall semester (July, August, September, or October). The absolute latest that you should take these tests is early December. PLEASE NOTE: California Colleges and Universities have eliminated the SAT and ACT for freshman applicants through the 2022-2023 academic year. The Military, private schools and out of state schools may still require it. Please make sure you check the website of the schools you are interested in applying to to see if they require the ACT or SAT.(SAT Dates) (ACT Dates)
UC AND CSU APPLICATIONS DUE
Submit UC and CSU applications by November 30th.
SPRING SEMESTER OF SENIOR YEAR
Even though most of your applications will be submitted by the time school starts back in January, there is still so much more work to be done. There might be a lull in progress while waiting for decisions to come out but you can still keep busy by applying to scholarships and making school visits. In addition, use this free time to study for any AP or AICE tests that you might have coming up. Passing an AP exam could be the difference between taking a college class or not.
CHECK APPLICATION DEADLINES
Keep checking deadlines—most private college applications will be due sometime in January
CHECK YOUR EMAIL
Every UC & CSU will email you about setting up your school Portal accounts. This is how you will check your admissions status and where you can see if you are missing anything for each school.
By the Spring semester, you have likely received admissions decisions from one or a few schools. As you receive more admissions decisions, carefully review each school’s financial aid package, research more about the school’s culture, and begin to consider which school is best for you.
One of the most helpful things you can do to make a decision regarding which college to attend is to visit the school. Many colleges host admitted students weekends to give students an opportunity to engage with the campus community and learn more about the school’s culture and student body. Walking through the student union, entering the library, even eating at local restaurants can help you imagine yourself attending that school. However, if you are unable to physically visit a school there are other options for you to learn more. Virtual tours are available for a wide list of colleges and universities around the globe. Organizations like YouVisit provide students with free opportunities to visit many colleges across the U.S.
MAKE A DECISION
By the late spring semester, you likely received all of your admissions decisions and visited all of the schools you’re interested in attending. Now is the time to make a decision. Review your financial aid packages, prioritize what is most important to you, and discuss with your school counselor to make a decision. Once you’ve made a decision, plan your living situation, schedule new student orientation, and submit your deposit to secure your spot in the class.
FAFSA opens on October 1st every year and you have the entire year basically to complete it. June 30 is the last day to submit FAFSA for the following school year. It’s important that this document is completed for schools to know how much money to give you in order to attend their school. (FAFSA)
Congratulations! YOU DID IT!!
Plan Your Future Right
Choosing your career first, your major, then college will help you narrow down your college list. Look at colleges that offer the careers and majors you are interested in then you can choose classes, programs, and experiences to launch the career of your dreams.
CAREER INTERESTS ASSESSMENT WEBSITES
Virtualjobshadow.com: Take career assessments, five to choose from. View over 1,000 career videos.
YourFreeCareerTest: Narrow down your career interests. The test will only take 2-5 minutes.