College Planning Timeline

College Planning - Freshman Year

  • Develop a solid work ethic, which includes good study habits and time management. Freshman year grades do matter!
  • READ! READ! READ!  This is great preparation for future SAT/ACT tests.
  • Take the PSAT 8/9 in October.
  • Review your PSAT 8/9 Score Report and visit to learn what skills you can improve upon in the year ahead. 
  • Get involved in campus life at CCES and in your community.
  • Explore new interests, both academically and in your extra-curricular activities.
  • Attend the Making the Most of High School seminar, hosted by the College Counseling Office.
  • Visit colleges with your family during summer months or school breaks.
  • Engage in a rewarding summer activity. 

    College Planning - Sophomore Year

    • Enroll in challenging academic courses that are appropriate for you. Now is the time to add an honors or AP class, if recommended by your teachers.
    • Be the best student you can be!
    • Take the PSAT in October.
    • Review PSAT Score Report and visit to strengthen your skills.
    • READ! READ! READ!  This is great preparation for future SAT/ACT tests.
    • Attend the Early College Planning Seminar, hosted by the College Counseling Office.
    • Meet with college admission representatives who visit CCES.
    • Attend the Greenville County College Fair to become familiar with colleges.
    • Assess your involvement in clubs, sports and activities at CCES and in your community.
    • Explore opportunities for leadership, both in the classroom and in extra-curricular pursuits.
    • Visit colleges with your family during summer months and school breaks.
    • Engage in a rewarding summer activity.

    College Planning - Junior Year

    August - December

    • Take the PSAT in October; make sure to do some review in advance!
    • Attend the Greenville County College Fair and explore colleges in greater depth.
    • Attend the monthly College Counseling Seminar for Juniors.
    • Review your PSAT Score Report and visit to strengthen your skills.
    • Register for your first SAT and/or ACT (for test dates in winter or early spring).
    • Visit colleges during Fall Break and on weekends.
    • Take on leadership roles at school and in your community
    • Be the best student you can be; GRADES MATTER!


    • Attend the annual College Meeting for Juniors and Parents, hosted by the CCES College Counseling Team. 
    • Review first semester academic performance and continue to focus efforts on academic excellence.   Work to enhance your study skills.
    • Schedule an individual appointment with your college counselor.
    • Conduct a serious self-assessment (interests, strengths, talents, goals) with the help of your college counselor.   
    • Research colleges.  Keep an open mind and consider schools you may not have heard of before or that are recommended to you by your counselor. 
    • Prepare for upcoming SAT and/or ACT tests.  Practice does improve scores!
    • Sit for the January SAT (recommended, not required).
    • Attend January College Counseling Seminar. 
    • If not currently involved, identify one or two extracurricular and/or community activities of interest and become actively engaged; explore new interests, develop your talents, and make a serious commitment to your activities.


    • Schedule your individual parent-student team meeting with your college counselor.
    • Continue your SAT/ACT test preparation.
    • Register for the March SAT.
    • Attend February College Counseling Seminar.
    • Register for the April ACT.
    • Continue to research colleges that will meet your needs, both academically and socially.
    • Read your College Counseling Handbook!


    • Visit colleges during Spring Break.
    • Sit for the March SAT (if appropriate for you).
    • Schedule an individual appointment with your college counselor.
    • Continue to build your preliminary college list and explore college suggestions from your counselor or others who know you well.
    • Attend the March College Counseling Seminar.
    • Register for the May SAT or Subject Tests.  


    • Schedule an individual appointment with your college counselor.
    • Sit for the April ACT Test at CCES.
    • Visit colleges during Easter Break.
    • Attend the April College Counseling Seminar.
    • Continue researching specific colleges and plan a summer college visits tour.
    • Discuss various colleges with friends, parents, teachers, siblings and alumni to gain insights.
    • Select senior year courses and review with your college counselor.  Choose senior classes that will be academically challenging and commensurate with your abilities.
    • Begin thinking of teachers who might write your academic recommendation letters.
    • Plan rewarding and meaningful summer activities  


    • Meet with your college counselor to further refine your college selections.
    • Sit for the May SAT or Subject Tests (discuss options with your college counselor).
    • Register for the June SAT or Subject Tests.
    • Register for the June ACT Test.
    • For non-native English speakers, schedule an appointment to take the TOEFl iBT Exam in the summer; register on
    • Study for any Advanced Placement or IB exams you may have in May.
    • Begin to review for year-end exams.
    • Begin to narrow college choices based on interests, abilities, and preferences.
    • Identify at least one teacher whom you may ask to write letters of recommendation and place your request before summer break.
    • Begin your scholarship search by registering with several free, online scholarship services.

    June - August

    • Schedule an individual appointment with your college counselor over the summer; encourage your parents to attend the meeting.
    • Plan summer visits to colleges.  Make sure to call a college in advance to arrange your visit. You can schedule campus tours, information sessions, meetings with faculty and coaches, and/or personal interviews.  Send thank you notes to college admission officers (as well as coaches, tour guides, professors) after each visit.
    • Engage in meaningful summer activities (work, study, community service, etc.)
    • Continue to research colleges and narrow down your list of college selections.
    • Write college application essays for those colleges to which you know you will be applying. College counselors recommend that you return to school in the fall with TWO essay drafts!
    • In August, complete the demographic portion of the Common Application (name, address, school name, etc.), as well as for any non-Common Application schools to which you will apply.
    • Complete your activities profile/résumé (9-12 grade activities), as discussed with your college counselor.

    College Planning - Senior Year


    • Return to school with your preliminary college list (10-12 schools that have been well researched).  This list should represent a range of admission selectivity appropriate for you.
    • Attend College Night for Seniors and Parents at CCES.
    • Schedule your first fall meeting with your college counselor to discuss senior year, assess testing needs, finalize your college list, and begin your application process.  
    • Establish your application timeline and determine all application and scholarship deadline dates.
    • Work on application essays.
    • Request your teacher recommendations.
    • Register for any final SAT and/or ACT tests you must take in the fall.


    • Take the October SAT, Subject Tests or ACT, if necessary.
    • Register for the CSS Profile, found on the College Board website, if you plan to apply for need-based financial aid at private colleges.  
    • Prepare applications with Early Action or Early Decision deadlines, which typically fall between October 15 and November 1.  
    • Visit colleges over Fall Break.  This is a great time to complete overnight visits and to attend college classes.  
    • Follow up with your teachers to ensure they have written your recommendation letters by your earliest application deadline date.
    • Finalize your college list by month’s end.  Discuss your list carefully with your family.
    • Contact your admission representatives at the schools to which you plan to apply.  Let each of them know of your intention to apply and ask for information that will allow you to make a more informed college selection in the spring.


    • Submit any applications with due dates before November 15 or with Rolling admissions.
    • Take the SAT or Subject Tests, if necessary. 
    • Work on college and scholarship applications with due dates in December.


    • Take any last SAT or ACT tests you need.
    • Complete all applications with January 1 deadline dates.
    • Wait for admission decisions to arrive mid-month if you have applied to any college under the EA or ED programs.  
    • Study diligently for exams!  Fall term senior year grades are critical in the admission process.


    • Ask your parents to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application as soon as possible after January 1 if you are applying for need-based financial aid. (Most colleges require the filing of the FAFSA by March 1 of the senior year.)
    • Finalize any outstanding college applications or scholarship applications.
    • Wait for admission decisions from colleges who render EA decisions in January. 

    February - April

    • Wait patiently as colleges review your applications.  Remember that you have worked hard and given your best efforts to your applications. 
    • Re-visit colleges on your list during Spring Break or at other times in the winter and early spring. 
    • Ensure that all financial aid forms have been filed.  Consult with individual colleges with questions regarding their process.
    • Receive your admission decisions from colleges in mid-February through late March.
    • Conduct any final research necessary to help you select your new college home from your offers of admission.
    • If necessary, indicate your intention to stay on a college’s wait list.


    • Commit to your college of choice by May 1, which is national Candidate Reply Date.  You must pay your enrollment deposit to one school by this date.
    • Take final senior exams, AP or IB exams.
    • Enjoy your final weeks of high school.
    • Respond to any colleges that may offer you a spot off their wait list.
    • Attend year-end senior activities, including graduation.
    • Celebrate!  You are on your way to an exciting college adventure.