College Planning Timeline

The Counseling Center help students navigate the process of selecting a post-secondary education. 

9th Grade

  • Take the self-assessments on the PA CareerZone website at www.pacareerzone. org to see what careers you are matched with. Set up a free account to keep track of your college and career possibilities.  Click here for a more information about this website: PA Career Zone Features and Overview

  • Talk to your parents and counselor about your courses and make sure your choices will look good to college admissions officers.

  • Show interest in your high school beyond the classroom by participating in clubs, sports, intramurals, and/or student government.

  • Volunteer in the community. Churches, fire stations, animal shelters, nursing homes, hospitals, children's sports leagues all accept volunteers. 

  • If you want to play college sports at the DI or DII level, see your counselor to be sure you are taking classes that qualify you to play. 

  • Remember those newsletters you've been getting via email from the Counseling Center? Read them! Check out field trip opportunities,  plan job shadowing days, search for college and career fairs, look for summer enrichment programs.

  • Talk to anyone and everyone about their jobs. What do you want to spend THE REST OF YOUR LIFE (minus retirement) doing each day?

  • Talk to people you know who are current college students.  It might give you a better perspective on college options and campus life.

  • Talk to your school counselor about college and career goals.


10th Grade

  • Schedule college prep and Honors courses if planning to attend college.

  • Research colleges.  Make a list of what you are looking for in a college. Some things to consider:

    • Trade or Technical School

    • Two Year vs. Four Year

    • Size

    • Distance from home

    • Majors offered

    • Public or Private

    • Athletics

    • Clubs

    • Cost to attend

  • See your school counselor about setting up a day to job shadow someone in a career you might like. You don't want to go to college for four years only to realize you don't like your career!

  • Take the PSAT if you are planning to attend college. Sign-ups are in September in the Counseling Center.

  • After receiving PSAT results in December,  use your personalized code on your PSAT score sheet to access study materials at www.collegeboard.org. 

  •  Read the Counseling Center monthly newsletter. These are emailed to all students and are also posted on our website. Check out field trip opportunities,  plan job shadowing days, search for college and career fairs, look for summer enrichment programs.
  • Start researching financial aid. Discuss with your family how to pay for college.

  • Don't waste your summer going into junior year.  Look into part-time jobs, summer programs or internships that will make your college application shine.

  • Check out some local colleges. Go visit or do a virtual visit/tour on the college website.

  • Scroll up and read the timeline for 9th grade. Complete any activities you haven't followed through with yet.  

11th Grade

  • See your school counselor about career and college choices and to ensure you are on track for college admissions.

  • Schedule college prep courses/honors courses if planning to attend college. If you are a strong student, consider taking AP courses. If you complete the course and take the AP Exam, you can have the chance to earn college credit. Ask your counselor for more information.

  • If you haven't already joined a club or sport, find an activity to join. This could be in school or outside of school at a fire company, animal shelter, or church group. 

  • If you have been a part of a club or sport for the past two years, start to work towards some sort of leadership role in that organization. Can you be the Treasurer? The Captain? The Chairperson of the MiniThon Committee?

  • See your school counselor about setting up a day to job shadow someone in a career you might like.

  • Continue college research and make tentative career plans.

  • Pay attention to the morning announcements and the Counseling Center newsletter. Colleges often visit West Perry in the fall. You can come learn about many schools without leaving the county.

  • Sign up for the PSAT in September in the Counseling Center.

  • After receiving PSAT results in December,  use your personalized code on your PSAT score sheet to access free study materials at www.collegeboard.org. 

  • Register for SATs at www.collegeboard.com. We recommend that you take them once or twice in the spring of 11th grade. Many students take them in March or June of 11th grade then again in October of 12th grade. Free SAT practice is available at KhanAcademy.org. 

  • Register with the NCAA in the spring of 11th grade if you plan to play Division I or II sports in college.  Check out www.ncaa.org and see your counselor with questions.

  • Narrow choices for colleges you want to apply to. Be sure to visit these colleges prior to applying. They may advertise Open House dates online and may waive your application fee if you attend!

  • Research how to apply to each college (typically online) and what each college requires. Create a document to keep track of all the deadlines and pieces of the applications.

  • Consider scheduling dual enrollment for your senior year. This allows you to earn your final high school credits while earning college credits at the same time. West Perry currently works with Shippensburg University, Harrisburg Area Community College, Messiah College, and PA College of Health Sciences as dual enrollment partners. See your counselor for more information. 

  • Think about spending your summer volunteering or in an internship to learn more about potential careers. Maybe take a part time job to save money for college. Check out the Counseling Center monthly newsletters to read more about summer opportunities. 

  • Over the summer, prepare a "brag sheet", list, or resume to give to teachers when you ask for a letter of recommendation for college applications or scholarships. Here is a sample: Letter of Recommendation Help Sheet.docx

12th Grade

  • See your school counselor about your career and college plans. Review your transcript with him or her, and be sure you are meeting all your graduation requirements.

  • Continue to maintain good grades and study habits, participate in extracurricular activities, and volunteer in your community. 

  • Re-read the timelines for grades 9-11 and complete anything you've procrastinated on!

  • September

    • Attend College Fairs and Open Houses. Cumberland Valley High School usually has a College Fair in early October that is open to the public. 

    • Meet with college representatives at West Perry. Listen to the morning announcements or see the Counseling Center Newsletter for dates and times. For the 2020-21 school year, college rep visits are pre-recorded and available at the College Corner of our Counseling Center website. 

    • Visit colleges you are interested in. Many offer virtual visits/tours if you cannot attend in person. 

    • Register for the SAT if needed. Use free study resources at Khan Academy.

    • Create a list of colleges you want to apply to if you haven't already. Research how to apply to each college (typically online) and what each college requires. Create a document to keep track of all the deadlines and pieces of the applications.

    • Begin looking for scholarships. Don't stop looking! We advertise scholarships on the morning announcements, Counseling Center newsletter, and the Paying for College section of this site. 

  • October

    • Take SATs again if needed.

    • Review your spreadsheet or checklist to keep track of what each college requires. Stay on top of requirements and deadlines!

    • Visit college websites for electronic applications and begin applying.

    • Request letters of recommendation as needed. Try to give two weeks notice. It is helpful to give your recommenders a resume so they are familiar with your accomplishments.

    • Make copies of everything you send to colleges if sending by postal service.

    • Start practicing for those all-important college essays.  Many college admissions officers list the essay as the deciding factor.

    • Complete the FAFSA Financial Aid application online anytime after October 1.  Some colleges also require the CSS PROFILE. Check with your school to see if this applies to you.

  • November

    • Mail or electronically submit applications by THANKSGIVING. Please note some schools (Penn State, for example) have earlier priority deadlines. Selective programs such as nursing also may have different requirements/deadlines. Contact the college or check your online admissions portal to ensure all items needed have been received.

    • Take SATs if needed.

    • Send SAT scores online to meet application deadlines.

    • Keep looking for scholarships.

  • January/February

    • Send Midterm grades to colleges after the second marking period.

    • Continue to search for scholarships.

    • Compare financial aid packages from the colleges as you receive them. Look at payment options that are available. 

  • March/April

    • Make decision on which college you will attend.

    • Make deposit to accept admission.

    • Keep looking for scholarships!

  • May/June

    • Send final grades/transcripts to the college you will be attending.

    • Send thank you notes to people who wrote you recommendations.

    • Look for a summer job to earn money.

    • GRADUATE!

  • Summer

    • Notify the financial aid office of your college about any scholarships you have been offered.

    • Attend freshman orientations as scheduled.

    • Get ready to start college in the fall! Enjoy!