College Center » Start Preparing for College Now (9-12th Grade Timeline)

Start Preparing for College Now (9-12th Grade Timeline)

Prepare for College Every Year!

 The sooner you start planning and preparing, the more likely you will reach your goal!


UC Doorways: Best place to check A-G requirements from Kennedy to a CSU or UC


  • Do well in your classes. Start building a strong GPA!
  • Read, read, and read!  Build your vocabulary and general knowledge!
  • Pursue your extracurricular passions. Find one or two extracurricular activities and try to stick with them all four years! This looks great on college applications!
  • Visit colleges during your vacations and attend college fairs.
  • Take a Pierce College course offered at Kennedy to begin your UC / CSU general education requirements!
  • Continue taking academic courses, including Honors and AP courses (if possible).
  • Take the PSAT in October to practice for the SAT and ACT. Study for free here (studying for the SAT will also help you prepare for the PSAT).
  • Continue researching favorite colleges. Think about college size, the location, majors, etc.
  • Read books, fiction and non-fiction.  Vocabulary is an important part of the SAT and ACT. Vocabulary and general knowledge is crucial to college success.
  • Take SAT Subject tests at the end of the year while you still remember the material! (Biology, World History, any other 10th grade classes).
  • Try to find a good summer program at a college, internship, or job.
  • Visit colleges, attend campus rep presentations, and attend college fairs.
  • Keep a list of all your activities and awards.  You will need this your senior year when you are applying to college! (HINT: You can keep the list at (Google Docs) or Microsoft OneDrive so that you never lose it.)
  • Volunteer in the community, join student organizations and clubs, and participate in school activities.
  • If you take an AP or Honors course (e.g., World History), then consider taking the SAT Subject exam in that subject.  This can be a great boost to your UC and private college applications!



  • Continue taking courses that will challenge you (Honors, AP, etc.) and continue being active on campus through extracurricular activities.
  • Visit colleges, look at websites, talk with college representatives, and go to college fairs.
  • Take the PSAT in October.  If you get a high score, you could be a National Merit Scholar or qualify for a scholarship. Study for free here!
  • Register for the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT in April, May, or June. A good strategy is to take both the SAT and ACT junior year, determine which you like better, and then concentrate your summer studying on that one before taking it again in the fall of senior year.
  • Register for the SAT Subject Tests in May or June (Chemistry,U.S. History, Spanish, Math Level 2, etc.).
  • Continue building your list of your activities and awards (remember, you can use Google (Google Docs) to store your list online).
  • Check in with Mr. Abarr to make sure that you’re meeting all your A-G courses for the UC’s and CSU’s.  Don’t wait until your senior year to find out that you’re missing courses!
  • Things to do during Summer vacation:
  • Participate in summer programs at colleges, read, travel, visit colleges, get a job, and/or find an internship during the summer!
  • Develop a list of 6-10 favorite colleges to which you will apply in the fall (2-3 “dream” schools, 2-3 “probably”, and 2-3 “sure things”).
  • Begin writing your personal statement.  Practice with the UC prompts.  
  • If you take AP or Honors courses (e.g., U.S.History, Chemistry), then consider taking the SAT Subject exams in those subjects.  This can be a great boost to your UC and private college applications!



  • Take a challenging course load (at least 3 academic courses) each term.
  • Check out scholarship opportunities at the website (click here) all year long! If you’re a super high-achieving student, explore full-ride private scholarships like the Gates Millennium and QuestBridge.
  • Begin working on your private university applications in August. Check out the Common Application, which is used by most prestigious private universities but all check website for individual university applications.
  • Take the ACT and/or SAT in October, November, or December if you’d like a shot at improving your score! Take SAT Subject tests by December, if necessary.Remember, the UC’s recommend that you take subject tests to strengthen your application.
  • Be sure to send your scores to the colleges to which you are applying!
  • Submit your CSU applications at CSUMentor and UC applications at  by November 30th!
  • Don’t forget to apply to private colleges.  They have high price tags, but they often give full financial support (you pay little to nothing!).
  • Apply for financial aid during January and February.  Two forms—1) the FAFSA and 2) the Cal Grant form—can get you a lot of money for college (your college bill will likely be completely covered!).
  • Apply to community colleges from March through June.