College Planning Checklist for 11th Grade


College Planning Checklist for 11th GradeAcademic and Extra Curriculum Suggestions:

  • This is the year to start really talking about college with your student.


  • Make sure your student takes the most rigorous classes possible. Grades and course rigor are important to admissions officers. 



  • Create a test prep plan for taking your first SAT and/or ACT.  Take the PSAT and PLAN. Review the year’s scheduled dates for SATs, ACTs, and SAT subject tests. Depending on your student’s results, plan test dates so they can take the test twice before the start of senior year. Senior year is very stressful and students should consider taking the SAT/ACT in the fall of senior year only if they feel they can do better than previous tests. The summer before 11th grade, make a plan for test prep and a schedule for which SAT/ACT tests you plan on taking.


  • Get serious discussing majors and careers your student may be attracted to.


  • With your student, start creating a draft list of colleges he/she may be interested in. Include schools that are reach, most likely, safety, as well as schools that will be financial safety schools that your family can afford. 


  • Research each school online – check out if the potential major is available and course requirements. It’s also worthwhile to look at a school’s student newspaper and career center. 


  • Request information from school your student is interested in.



  • Attend college fairs in your area and sign in at schools your student is interested in.


  • Consider which teachers you would like to ask for recommendations.


  • Create a physical and online folder to keep all your information and brochures.


  • Stay abreast of when Common App essays are released (late spring or early summer)




  • Make the most of this summer. Use your summers to continue pursuing your out of school interests or fine-tune any academics you’d like to strengthen. 






College Financial Suggestions:


  • Consider schools that are “financial safety” schools. Include schools that are “financial safety” schools on the list.


  • Make a list of net prices at each school on the list. Start looking into net price calculators for the schools on your student’s list. The College Board has a link to every school’s net price calculator. College Abacus lets you enter your information and financially compare 6 schools at once.


  • Know which financial aid forms and calculations each school uses that are on your students college list. There are 3 types of financial aid forms: FAFSA, Profile, 568 President’s forms. Some schools use, one two or all three forms. Know that ahead of time before applying. A parent’s tax year, starting January of a student’s sophmore year and ending Decmeber of junior year, is the tax year that will be used to make financial aid decisions during the college admissions process. Start understanding what options you may have to maximize your financial aid eligibility. 


  • Continue your scholarship search. Be weary of “no essay” scholarships or ones that don’t ask for much information – they are just like sweepstakes with companies looking to gather your information. Don’t ever pay a fee to apply for a scholarship. Chances of winning a scholarship are highest when applying to locally sponsored scholarships, so start researching a creating a list. Review Confessions of a Scholarship Winner.


Connect With Other Parents Figuring Out How To Pay For College





  1. […] This post is for juniors. Please take a moment to read this article. It is full of great wisdom on what you should be doing at this time: […]

  2. I had a talk with my 11th grader few hours ago and with my 12th grader , yesterday…
    My senior, has not been able to figure out where to go bc he says ” we cannot afford any why going ?”
    But then i see his GPA above 4.2 and SAT around 1300 am not sure but not bad..
    School starts soon…and no idea what, where, when…we had a plan, then the finance stops everything..
    Community college is our option but a waste bc my son’s a genius like all say..
    Lost…am lost here..


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