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College & Career Planning Checklist

Now is the time to explore options for your future.  The College & Career Counselor, Mrs. Hurst, and your Counselor will work with you during your four years at Plainfield North to help guide you through this process.  

While each student's journey is unique, below is a suggested timeline to stay on track with your exploration.  Please reach out to us with any questions you may have.  

 

FRESHMAN AND SOPHOMORE YEAR

 

  • Start to build your academic resume considering what colleges are looking for (this also applies to the military and trades)
  • Review the District 202 High School Curriculum Guide for lots of pertinent information including our grading scale, graduation requirements, and course descriptions
  • Create your four-year plan based on District 202 graduation requirements and college admissions requirements
  • Set academic goals for each semester
  • Establish effective study habits
  • If you need help with classes, ask for help from teachers and/or student tutors
  • Check Home Access Center frequently to ensure that your grades accurately reflect who you are as a student
  • Review your transcript in Home Access Center after first semester grades are posted to see what colleges will be sent when applying for admission (note that colleges make initial admission decisions based on freshman, sophomore, and junior year grades as students apply the first semester of senior year)
  • Use Khan Academy to prepare for the spring PSAT
  • Get to know the teachers, counselors, administrators, and staff at Plainfield North - we are all here to help you be successful
  • Explore your interests by getting involved in extracurricular activities both inside and outside of school (clubs, sports, volunteering)
  • Build your resume in Naviance (go to My Stuff under the About Me menu)
  • Attend Group Guidance with the College & Career Counselor in the spring
    • Log in to Naviance and complete the following activities in My Assessments under the About Me menu
      • Freshmen:  Complete the Strengths Explorer
      • Sophmores:  Complete the Career Cluster Finder and the Career Interest Profiler
  • Start to explore potential careers and pathways to those careers - keep your options open
  • Find opportunites such as job shadowing, volunteering, or attending summer camps to explore potential career and college pathways
  • Research the value of a college degree in terms of projected earnings and unemployment rates
  • If you're interested in potentially attending college, use a college planning checklist (fresh/soph) to help you navigate the process and make sure you're on track
  • Explore opportunities through the military or trades
  • Consider your future career path when planning classes for the following year (usually late January meeting with Counselor)

 


END OF SOPHOMORE YEAR/SUMMER PRIOR TO JUNIOR YEAR

  • Consider getting a job
  • Visit college campuses - a place to start is to visit different types of campuses (such as large public, small private, city, and rural) to get an idea where you feel comfortable
    • Official tours can be set up through the Admissions Offices at each college
    • Use a Campus Visit Checklist to get an idea of where to go on campus and what to ask
    • Consider "College Fit", which comes down to your academic, social, and financial needs, as well as your career goals
    • Compare colleges using a College Comparison Worksheet

 

JUNIOR YEAR

 

FALL

  • Continue to visit college campuses
    • If missing days of schools, fill out a Pre-Arranged Absence/College Visit Forms (available in the Attendance Office)
  • Sign up for PNHS College Admissions Rep visits in Naviance
  • Attend the District 202 College and Financial Aid Night at Plainfield North (September)
  • Attend the JJC College Fair (October)
  • Start to create a list of colleges you like in Naviance (Favorite them)
  • Research academic requirements for colleges you are interested in
  • If interested, meet with military reps and take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • Register for AP Tests (if applicable)
  • Sign up for a SAT Prep Course
  • Take on leadership roles in your clubs/sports
  • Update your resume in Naviance (go to My Stuff under the About Me menu)
  • Continue to make academics a priority

 


WINTER/SPRING

  • Register for courses for senior year that will prepare you for competitive college admissions
    • Consider college admissions requirements when signing up for classes
  • Attend Group Guidance with the College & Career Counselor in the spring
    • Log in to Naviance and complete the following activities in My Assessments under the About Me menu
      • Explore SuperMatch and Scattergrams
      • Research a mix of reach, target, and safety/likely schools based on your GPA, test scores, and major
      • Develop a list of 10 - 15 colleges that are of interest to you (you can find many colleges where you’ll be happy and get a great education - the college search is about exploring who you are/what you want and finding colleges that will meet your goals)
      • Watch the video: Advice from the Class of 2020 about Applying to College
  • Schedule a college & career planning appointment with Mrs. Hurst, College & Career Counselor
  • If you're interested in potentially attending college, use a college planning checklist (junior) to help you navigate the process and make sure you're on track
  • Attend the College Planning Night for Juniors and Parents in February at PNHS
  • Attend local college fairs (March)
    • North Central College
    • Lewis University
  • Start to familiarize yourself with the Financial Aid Process
  • Estimate your financial aid need (financial aid can help you afford college - use online tools such as the ones listed below for estimates)
  • Talk to your parents about realistic financial options
  • Create an individual testing plan to maximize test scores
    • You will take the SAT exam at PNHS in April during a school day (for free)
    • Determine whether you want to take the SAT, ACT, or both (SAT vs ACT) on your own - all colleges accept both (concordance table to convert scores) and use scores to make admission decisions
    • Register for the SAT and/or ACT
    • Make sure you sign up to send your four free scores to colleges when you register
    • See your Couselor for paperwork if you qualifiy for a fee waiver
    • Prepare using Khan Academy, SAT Test Prep, and ACT Test Prep
  • Take applicable Advanced Placement (AP) tests
  • Begin asking teachers for college recommendations (check college requirements first)
    • Fill out the Teacher/Counselor Recommendation Questionnaire in Naviance
    • Ask your teacher (in person) before the end of the school year
    • Request the letter through Naviance, which sends them a link to upload the letter to be sent to colleges
  • Any student-athlete seriously considering pursuing athletics in college (for NCAA Division I and II) should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center
  • Seek out summer opportunities to explore your intended major
  • Attend your junior credit check meeting with your Counselor when scheduled
  • Prepare for semester exams
  • Finish Junior year strong

 


SUMMER

  • Continue to visit colleges
  • Start to narrow down your list of prospective colleges
  • Add activities, awards, and experiences to your Resume in Naviance - this will make filling out college applications much easier
  • Review college applications for essay/personal statement requirements and begin working on them
  • Attend the Essay Writing Workshop in August
  • Start applying to colleges on August 1st

 

SENIOR YEAR

 

FALL

  • If you're interested in attending college, use a college planning checklist (senior) to help you navigate the process and make sure you're on track
  • Narrow down your college list to 5-10 colleges to apply to (could be more or less depending on your personal/family preference)
  • Understand the differences between binding/non-binding college admission processes:  Regular Decision, Rolling Admission, Early Action, and Early Decision
  • Create a college spreadsheet listing admissions requirements and admission/scholarship deadlines (some schools have Oct. 15 deadlines, but most are Nov. 1, Nov. 15, or Dec. 1)
  • Attend Senior Group Guidance with Mrs. Hurst in late August/early September for assistance with the college admissions process, including instructions on sending transcripts/test scores (scores are sent starting after Labor Day)
  • Sign up for PNHS College Admissions Rep visits in Naviance
    Attend District 202 College Nights in September/October
    • Senior College Application Night at Plainfield South
    • College Fair and Financial Aid Night at Plainfield North
    • Conquering College Costs at Plainfield East
  • Attend the JJC College Fair (October)
  • Register for AP tests (if applicable)
  • Continue to work on essays and ask a parent, friend, teacher, or the College & Career Counselor for feedback
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application as soon as possible after it opens on October 1
  • Apply to colleges - do NOT wait until the last minute to apply
    • Should I use the Common App? - we recommend using the Common App if you have 3 - 4 schools that accept it, otherwise it's easier to apply directly to the school through their website
    • Fill out applications
    • Keep track of your user names/passwords
    • Finish your essays
    • Request official transcripts for college through Naviance (scores are sent starting after Labor Day)
    • See your Counselors if you need a fee waiver
    • Confirm which of your colleges need Teacher or Counselor letters of recommendations
      • Fill out the Teacher/Counselor Recommendation Questionnaire in Naviance
      • Ask your teacher (in person) - give them at least two weeks for completion
      • Request the letter through Naviance, which sends them a link to upload the letter to be sent to colleges
      • Send them a thank you note when done
    • Call or email College Admissions Offices with any questions about the application
    • Review your application before submitting
  • Check your email accounts, college portals, and mailbox for updates/notifications from colleges, including notifications that your application materials have been received and your file is complete
  • If interested in the military or trades, contact a recruiter or the local union

 


WINTER

  • Check your email accounts, college portals, and mailbox for college acceptance notifications and financial aid packages
  • Start to create a college comparison list of the pros/cons and financial aid packages for each college
  • Visit your top college choices to help you make a final decision - make sure it's an "official" visit organized through the Admissions Department at the college
  • See your Counselor if colleges require a midyear transcript
  • Research scholarships in Naviance and on other recommended websites
  • Apply for scholarships and request transcripts through Naviance
  • If you're planning to attend JJC, apply now and complete the steps required for new students

 


SPRING

  • Finish up any outstanding scholarship applications
  • Make your final decision by May 1 and send in your deposit
    • Notify other prospective schools that you do not plan to attend
  • Complete the Senior Exit Survey in Naviance (About Me tab) to request your final transcript and provide admissions data for future PNHS students
  • Enjoy your final days at PNHS

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