CollegeLab Blog

    College Planning for Each Year of High School

    Applying to college can be confusing for students and their parents. Plus, the college application process is as competitive as it’s ever been! So, we recommend getting an early start on the admissions process so that you can make it a positive experience.

    At CollegeLab, we recommend starting to think about the college admissions process as early as the freshman year. As the 2019-2020 school year approaches, here are a few important action items for parents and kids to take at the start of every school year: 


    • Sit down with your school’s guidance and/or college counselor to confirm course selections for the year, and to take a look at where these can lead in sophomore year and beyond. Your most challenging course choices should match your strongest interests. It's a great idea to not only explore your strengths, but to try a new challenge or skill. You might want to also consider starting to get involved in a variety of extracurricular activities to deepen existing interests and explore new ones, such as academic teams and clubs, debate or community service
    • Most standardized tests for college will be taken at the end of sophomore year and during junior and senior years. But forewarned is forearmed, so make sure you are familiar with future deadlines. Use CollegeLab to plan which standardized tests your child will take, and when, in the coming years so you can also understand the studying time and resources you’ll need for testing prep


    • Meet with your school’s counselor to discuss what classes your child should take that will prepare him or her for an appropriately challenging schedule in Junior Year. This is especially important if your student is interested in pre-med or college-level engineering
    • Work with your child to build their college best-fit list and look at the campus visit and information session schedules to determine which college campus visits to make in the coming year. Sophomore and Junior years are ideal times to visit campuses.
    • Schedule the preACT and/or PSAT test this year, and consider an SAT Subject Test if your course content matches up well with one of the 20 Subject Tests offered


    • Review your child’s grade point average and test scores and use CollegeLab to understand the schools that might be a fit (based on these and 10 other data points relevant to college admissions)
    • Use CollegeLab to understand how test scores and grades affect acceptance probability 
    • Look at the financial aid options for each college on the list as well as scholarship opportunities within the student’s chosen field of study (if they have one) 
    • Use CollegeLab’s predictive analytics to find out what your child can do to improve his or her chances of getting into the colleges of their choice 
    • Schedule the ACT or SAT test this year, and maybe one or more SAT Subject Tests to highlight areas of academic strength 
    • If you haven’t done so already, begin visiting schools, especially those nearby, to get a feel for which might be a good fit


    • Finalize the list of top colleges and check in with how test scores measure up against the admissions requirements
    • Decide whether you will apply under any early admission plans. Research the differences between Early Action, Early Decision, Early Decision II, Restricted Early Action, and Regular Decision
    • Use CollegeLab to track application status and to understand how applying early can affect acceptance probability 
    • Sit down with the school’s counselor (or your own independent educational counselor) to discuss any other ideas to consider before submitting college applications

    Many families hire IECs, or Independent Educational Consultants, to advise them during the college application process, as early as freshman year. 

    Our online tool complements the services they offer in the following ways:

    • Predicts a student’s chances of acceptance at the schools of their choice 
    • Enables a comprehensive search of schools that are best for your child
    • Allows you to create a personalized list of potential colleges to apply to 
    • Identifies the areas in which the student can increase his or her chances of acceptance at the schools on their list 
    • Empowers families to set goals by seeing how improving grades and scores will affect the chances of admission 

    We’re able to help democratize the admissions process by providing actionable insights to every student, regardless of background. 

    Get started using CollegeLab with a free trial today!.

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