Welcome to the easy-browsing, ultra-informing College Checklist. Click on your year to get started.


You’re getting things in order. Making plans. Rocking it out. You’ve come to the right place, and at the right time – Freshman and Sophomore years are the perfect opportunity to take care of a few key items that will make everything else go much more smoothly. Check out the boxes below for your best bets (hint: If you can’t get to them all, just focus on the first few. We’ve prioritized them for you.)


    Look closely at your courses. (And more.)


    Colleges will be looking at your GPA, sure, but they'll also make sure you took challenging classes and were involved in extracurricular activities like sports, volunteer work and reaching out to the community. Take steps to ensure they like what they find. Consider AP courses for your upcoming schedule, and see if your teachers and counselor have ideas for how else you can study up.


    Take (and study for, and register for) the PSAT.

    The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is great preparation for the standardized tests (SAT or ACT) you'll take as a junior or senior. It's also your chance to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. Not only is the award an honor, it means money for college that you don't have to pay back

    The College Board: About the PSAT


    Research different types of schools.


    Decide what's most important to you. Is Ivy-League prestige at the top of your list? Or would a solid community-college education give you the preparation you need? From big school to little school, city-livin’ to the great wide open, you’ve got options.


    Envision your life post-college.


    What's your dream job? What's a cool career you could actually see yourself having? You don't have to go so far as to get prospective business cards printed up, but definitely think about the possibilities. Do some research, online or through people you or friends and family may know, and explore different occupations.


    Start saving.

    Every little bit counts. And you can even get help from our friends at 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy – they’ve got dozens of articles on preparing, saving for and paying for college. There’s even a College Savings calculator to help you fine-tune (or create) your plan.

    360 Degrees of Financial Literacy: Saving for College


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