College Prep Checklist by Grade

College Prep Checklist

What Grade Are You In?

 
  • Take school seriously. Work hard, learn as much as you can, and do your homework.
  • Read the newspaper, books, magazines…whatever interests you.
  • Talk to your family about going to college.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports, yearbook, band, drama, student government, or the science club at school. You also can get involved in volunteer activities in the community (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, singing in a choir). This involvement will help you identify your interests.
  • Think about careers, majors, and jobs that interest you. Take the RiseUpMS.com personality quiz, talk to experts in jobs that interest you. If you have access to a computer, research the jobs on the Internet.

Seventh Grade

Printer Friendly Version
  • Research which high schools or special programs will help you learn more about your areas of interest.
  • Talk to your counselor and your teachers about when to begin taking advanced courses such as Algebra I and beginning foreign language class. (But, remember, take only the most difficult courses YOU CAN HANDLE.)
  • Talk to your counselor or teachers about courses you can take in high school.
  • Get involved in school- or community-based extracurricular activities.
  • Keep reading magazines, newspaper articles and books.
  • Keep a journal to develop good writing skills by writing about your activities, your hopes and dreams, your family and friends, and your school.
  • Do well on standardized tests.
  • Register your profile on RiseUpMS.com.
  • Keep doing your best in school – Study hard, earn good grades, and participate in class.
  • Ask your counselor about challenging and interesting courses (advanced placement or honors) you can take in high school.
  • Continue to explore different career options.
  • Start saving money now to help pay for college.
  • Continue taking advanced courses such as Algebra II and intermediate foreign language class.
  • Talk to your parents, older sisters and brothers, and other students who are attending college. If you don’t know any college students, ask your counselor to help you contact them.
  • Think about careers, majors, and jobs that interest you. Take our personality quiz, talk to experts in jobs that interest you.   If you have access to a computer, research the jobs on the Internet.
  • Check out the Roadmap to College and begin to chart your college course.
Find a Mentor
  • Talk to someone – your parents, a teacher, a counselor, someone from church, a coach – about your desire to go to college. They can support you and help you take the steps to get there.
Classes and Tests
  • Take challenging courses, especially in the core subjects (math, English, science, and social studies).
  • At the end of the year, select 10th grade courses that will put you on track to be college- and/or career-ready.
  • Take the EXPLORE test in the 9th grade if possible.
  • Study hard. DO the best that you can do.
Career and College Prep
  • Take advantage of the online Choices program, offered through Mississippi’s public high schools. It offers a lot of useful career planning info. Good career planning leads to better college planning.
  • Think about the types of careers that interest you, and learn about the skills you’ll need to succeed in your choice career.
  • Look for job-shadowing opportunities. Or if you need to work, try to find a part-time job related to your career interest.
  • Talk to adults about what they do. Ask them, “What do you like about your job?” and “Where did you go to college?”
  • Begin the exploration process to learn about colleges in Mississippi – it’s not too early. Go to career information events. Ask employers what kind of education they expect their employees to have.
Save Money
  • If you don’t have a college savings plan, start one now.
  • Ask your parent(s) to help you learn more about financial aid.
  • Talk to your parents about Mississippi’s MACS and MPACT programs.
Out of the Classroom
  • Create a college file and put in items such as:
  • Copies of your report card
  • A list of awards and honors you received
  • A list of community organizations and clubs you join, including dates of participation and any offices you held
  • A list of paid and volunteer jobs you have held
  • Letters of recommendation from adults who know you well (not family members)
  • Participate in music, art, clubs, sports, or other activities. Extracurricular activities help you figure out what you do and don’t like. You’ll meet new people, learn new things, and develop skills in leadership and teamwork. They also make you a well-rounded person.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is not only a wonderful way to give back to the community, but volunteering gives you an avenue for exploring different types of work environments.
  • Try to limit TV, video games, and computer time. Sounds like no fun, but your future successful self will thank you.
  • Look into summer camps and other programs held at Mississippi colleges and universities. Being on a university campus is fun, and you’ll likely learn a lot about yourself.
Find and Keep in Touch with a Mentor
  • Talk to someone – your parents, a teacher, a counselor, someone from church, a coach – about your desire to go to college. They can support you and help you take the steps to get there.
  • Continue talking to your high school counselor, your family, and your friends about your plans for the future.
Classes and Tests

Update your college file at the end of each grading period with items such as:

  • Copies of your report card
  • A list of awards and honors you received
  • A list of community organizations and clubs you join, including dates of participation and any offices you held
  • A list of paid and volunteer jobs you have held
  • Letters of recommendation from adults who know you well (not family members)
  • Take the challenging courses that will put you on track to be college-ready. These include challenging core courses (math, English, science, and social science) and the right electives (foreign language, computer, arts, etc.).
  • Study hard and do well in school. Your grades will count toward college and will show up on your high school transcripts.
  • At the end of the 10th grade year, select 11th grade courses that will keep you on track to be college-ready. These include Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in subjects where your excel.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT and/or PLAN tests in the 10th grade if possible. They will help you place into AP or IB courses, and they are good practice for the ACT and SAT tests.
  • Keep up your grades. Grades in high school are very important to some colleges.
Save Money
  • It is never too late to start saving for college. Even a small savings account will help.
  • Talk to your parents about the MACS and MPACT programs.
  • Start learning the specifics about different types of financial aid such as grants, scholarships, loans, and college work-study.
Career and College Prep
  • Continue to take advantage of the online Choices program, offered through Mississippi’s public high schools. It offers a lot of useful career planning info. Good career planning leads to better college planning.
  • Use the Internet to start exploring colleges through their websites and by signing up for their podcasts.
  • Start attending college fairs in your area. College representatives come in and give away information about their colleges.
  • Continue to think about the types of careers that interest you, and learn about the skills you’ll need to succeed in your choice career.
  • Look for job shadowing opportunities.
  • Begin the exploration process to learn about colleges in Mississippi – it’s not too early.
  • Look for opportunities to visit different college or university campuses. Football games or other sporting events are fun. There also may be a play or art show you could attend.
Out of the Classroom
  • Participate in music, art, clubs, sports, or other activities, and pursue leadership positions when possible. Extracurricular activities help you figure out what you do and don’t like. You’ll meet new people, learn new things, and develop skills in leadership and teamwork. They also make you a well-rounded person.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is not only a wonderful way to give back to the community, but volunteering gives you an avenue for exploring different types of work environments.
  • Try to limit TV, video games, and computer time. Sounds like no fun, but your future successful self will thank you.
  • Look into summer camps and other programs held at Mississippi colleges and universities. Being on a university campus is fun, and you’ll likely learn a lot about yourself.
  • Begin visiting nearby colleges and universities that interest you with your family and friends. Call the admissions office in advance to schedule an appointment and/or college tour. Dress appropriately to make a good impression, and come with a list of questions you have about the college.
  • Request catalogs from all of the colleges that interest you.  Don’t worry if the colleges you like best seem expensive.  You may be eligible for financial aid to help you with college costs.

Eleventh Grade

Printer Friendly Version
Find Money for College
  • Start looking for scholarships now – even if you aren’t the star student or star athlete. Some scholarships aren’t based on merit. And some application deadlines are early in the senior year, so you will want plenty of time. You can find scholarships anywhere:
    • Ask your counselor
    • Look for newspaper announcements of scholarship recipients
    • Ask family members to find out if there are scholarships offered by their employers or by organizations they belong to. If you have a job, ask your employer about scholarship opportunities available to you through your company.
    • Talk to seniors about scholarships they received.
  • Keep saving money for college. If you haven’t been saving, start now – every little bit helps.
Classes and Tests
  • Make sure you’re taking the challenging courses that will put you on track to be college-ready. These include challenging core courses (math, English, science, and social science) and the right electives (foreign language, computer, arts, etc.).
  • Talk to your counselor to make sure you’re on track.
  • At the end of the 11th grade year, select 12th grade courses that will keep you on track to be college-ready. EVEN if you have completed all the courses needed for graduation and for college, you should still take advanced courses your senior year. With math and other subjects, you use it or lose it.
  • If you excel in a subject, take the AP exams at the end of the year. Even if your school doesn’t offer AP courses, or if you home-school, you can still take the AP exams.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT or ACT PLAN Assessment test in the fall. They are great practice for college entrance exams (SAT or ACT), and good scores could earn you a scholarship. The National Merit Scholarship program is based on the PSAT.
  • Take the ACT in the spring of 11th grade, if possible. Some colleges, especially out-of-state, prefer or require the SAT I, so be aware that you may need to take it as well.
  • Stay focused, and keep up your grades. High school grades are very important to some schools.
Career and College Prep
  • Continue to learn about colleges in Mississippi.
  • During the spring and summer, try to visit the campuses of the colleges you’re interested in.
  • Continue talking to your high school counselor, your family, and your friends about your plans for the future. Ask your high school counselor for suggestions of colleges you should consider based on major, scholarships, and location.
  • Update your college file at the end of each marking period. Now create files on each school that appeals to you, and include the catalogs you pick up at college fairs, campus visits, or receive via mail.
  • Keep using the online Choices program, offered through Mississippi’s public high schools. It offers a lot of useful career planning info.
  • Research the admission criteria for your top school choices. Evaluate where you stand in relation to those requirements.
  • Learn as much as you can about the careers that interest you and the skills you’ll need to succeed in your choice career.
  • Look for job-shadowing opportunities, such as “bring your child to work day.”
  • Sign up for career-based programs and summer camps for high-school students at Mississippi colleges – there are lots of fun options.
Out of the Classroom
  • Participate in music, art, clubs, sports, or other activities, and pursue leadership positions when possible. Extracurricular activities help you figure out what you do and don’t like. You’ll meet new people, learn new things, and develop skills in leadership and teamwork. They also make you a well-rounded person.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is not only a wonderful way to give back to the community, but volunteering gives you an avenue for exploring different types of work environments.
  • Try to limit TV, video games, and computer time. Sounds like no fun, but your future successful self will thank you.
  • Look into summer camps and other programs held at Mississippi colleges and universities. Being on a university campus is fun, and you’ll likely learn a lot about yourself.
  • Attend college fairs and presentations by college representatives. Listen to your school’s announcements for information about dates for these events.
  • Fill out inquiry cards from colleges so they can mail you a catalog and an application.
  • Visit college campuses. While you are there, take campus tours, visit with advisers and faculty, and pick up enrollment and financial aid information.

Twelfth Grade

Printer Friendly Version
Find Money for College
  • Make sure your parents file their taxes as early in the spring semester (after January) as possible – you’ll need your tax info when you apply for federal and state financial aid.
  • Even if you don’t think your family will qualify, be sure to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Do this as soon after January 1 as possible.
  • If you have trouble completing the FAFSA, watch for free events, like College Goal Sunday, where you can find experts to help you complete and file the paperwork.
  • Complete the application for state financial aid.
  • Keep looking for scholarships – even if you aren’t the star student or star athlete. Some scholarships aren’t based on merit. And some application deadlines are early in the senior year, so don’t put this off.
  • Keep saving. If you haven’t been saving, start now – every little bit helps.
Classes
  • Talk to your counselor to make sure you’re on track.
  • Continue to take the challenging courses that will put you on track to be college-ready. These include challenging core courses (math, English, science, and social science) and the right electives (foreign language, computer, arts, etc.).
  • Beware of Senioritis! Don’t slack off now.
  • EVEN if you have completed all the courses needed for graduation and for college, you should still take advanced courses your senior year. With math and other subjects, you use it or lose it.
  • Stay focused, and keep up your grades. High school grades are very important to some schools.
Tests
  • Take the ACT as early as possible in the fall. Keep in mind that some colleges have early application deadlines, so make sure the standardized tests are taken in time for the test scores to reach the college by their deadline. Some colleges, especially out-of-state, prefer or require the SAT I, so be aware that you may need to take it as well. If you are unhappy with your scores, you can take it again.
  • If you excel in a subject, take the AP exam at the end of the year. Even if your school doesn’t offer AP courses, or if you home-school, you can still take the AP exams.
College Prep
  • Know the deadlines for submitting admissions and financial aid applications.
  • Continue to visit college campuses. Go back for a second or third visit to campuses you really like. If you have the opportunity, attend events, such as plays, concerts, sporting events, or activities related to your major.
Fall
  • Gather applications to the schools you are considering and keep track of the deadlines for admission, scholarships, and housing.
  • Develop a plan to pay for college. If you need financial aid, ask your guidance counselor and teachers about scholarships and get the applications. Keep checking back periodically throughout the year for information on the latest scholarships.
  • Complete your college applications. Be aware of application deadlines and submit all required information as early as possible.
  • If possible, visit the campuses of colleges you have applied to.
  • Once you have selected the college you want to attend and have been accepted, be sure to confirm your acceptance.
Spring
  • Attend a financial aid workshop with your parents or family members.
  • Fill out the Free application for Federal Student Aid (as soon after Jan. 1 as possible) to qualify for need-based grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans.
  • Once you have chosen your school and have been accepted, get familiar with the campus and what you will need when you get there. Research housing options, course selection and scheduling, faculty and advisers, transportation, orientation programs, and supplies you will need.
  • If you will be living on campus, make sure you complete the housing applications on time.
  • Be aware of important upcoming dates like registration, freshmen orientation, and payment deadlines.
Career Prep
  • Continue to learn more about the careers that interest you, so you will be ready to select a major.
  • Look for job-shadowing opportunities, such as “bring your child to work day” or internships.
  • Sign up for career-based programs and summer camps for high-school students at Mississippi colleges – there are lots of fun options.
Beyond the Classroom
  • Participate in music, art, clubs, sports, or other activities, and pursue leadership positions when possible. Extracurricular activities help you figure out what you do and don’t like. You’ll meet new people, learn new things, and develop skills in leadership and teamwork. They also make you a well-rounded person.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is not only a wonderful way to give back to the community, but volunteering gives you an avenue for exploring different types of work environments.
  • Try to limit TV, video games, and computer time. Sounds like no fun, but your future successful self will thank you.
  • Look into summer camps and other programs held at Mississippi colleges and universities. Being on a university campus is fun, and you’ll likely learn a lot about yourself.

Switch to our mobile site