College Counseling

Pre-College Checklist

College Counseling

Pre-College Checklist

The college planning process can be time consuming, frustrating, and stressful. At the same time, it can also be a fun and exciting process full of opportunities to explore and shared moments to treasure. To help students and parents through the college planning process, please use this pre-college calendar and checklist as a guide. 

List of 1 frequently asked questions.


    • Work to your ability – consistently! 
    • Take the PSAT 8/9 in the fall. 
    • Get involved in Aquinas or community extra-curricular activities. 
    • Gifted student athletes should begin learning about NCAA core course requirements, gaining a heightened understanding of the importance of good grades.  
    • Start a file for report cards, awards, accomplishments, and activities.
  • Work to your ability – consistently! 
  • Maintain extra-curricular involvement. 
  • Identify career exploration resources at Aquinas and in your community. 
  • Consult with a finance professional about strategies for funding college. 
  • Gifted student athletes should begin learning about NCAA core course requirements, gaining a heightened understanding of the importance of good grades. 
  • Take the PSAT 10.


  • Work to your ability – consistently! This is a very important year academically! 
  • Obtain a social security number, necessary for college and financial aid. 
  • Identify and explore the college planning resources at Aquinas and in the community. 
  • Begin narrowing down colleges that seem to be a good fit for you, and visit them. Campus visits are ideal when campus is in session. Take advantage of your days off during the school year. When you set up official campus visits you can often receive fee waived applications. Keep a journal of your trips, making notes of your impressions, pros and cons, people you meet, etc. Don’t forget to send thank you letters to the admission representatives who interview you or provide a tour. 
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT (practice SAT) at Aquinas in the fall. 
  • Register for the SAT I (and possibly II’s) and ACT for the spring test administration dates. Check with potential colleges on specific testing requirements. Be aware of registration deadlines! 
  • Talk with the college admission representatives from the various colleges that visit Aquinas during your lunch period throughout the year. 
  • Consult with a finance professional about strategies for funding college. Become familiar with federal and private student loans. 
  • Start looking into scholarship opportunities. The website is an excellent resource. 
  • When you select courses for senior year, choose challenging ones. College admission representatives take notice of this as an indicator of your motivation. 
  • Consider a summer job or internship that may be related to a potential career interest.
  • Complete Aquinas’ senior profile, which is used by teachers and counselors when writing letters of recommendation.


  • Make the decision to finish your high school experience strong. Colleges request a midyear report to check on a student’s academic progress senior year. 
  • Register for the next available SAT or ACT.  
  • Ask two or three teachers if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Be sure to thank them. (Most applications automatically ask for counselor evaluations/recommendations.) 
  • Compile catalogs and admission information, including applications, for your top choices.
  • Review the unofficial copy of your transcript, which will be given to you by request. Let your counselor know of any questions you may have. 
  • Counselors will meet with all students to review the college application process. 

  • Retake the SAT and/or ACT. It is your responsibility to ensure that your standardized test scores are forwarded to colleges, by you having them sent directly from the testing agency. Do not make assumptions! Communication with your counselor is a vital component of a successful application process! 
  • Visit or revisit top college choices. Interview students and faculty members. 
  • Work on college application essays and ask a parent or teacher to read your rough draft. Save it on a USB. Remember, this is a unique opportunity to give the admissions representatives a glimpse of who you are! Make it meaningful and memorable for the reader by being creative and interesting. 
  • Schedule an appointment with Mrs. Arieno in the Counseling Center to review completed application materials. 
  • You can start filing for the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Apply online at
  • Check with the Counseling Center and your Naviance account for scholarship opportunities. Continue this periodically throughout the year. 

  • You have an additional opportunity to re-take the SAT and/or ACT. 
  • Continue submitting college applications. Be aware of college deadlines and Aquinas deadlines! A good goal is to have your applications submitted by Thanksgiving. The sooner, the better!!! 

  • Parents: Save year-end payroll stubs in case they are needed for determining financial aid eligibility. 
  • Continue submitting college applications, keeping in mind that it is starting to get late in the process. Make this a priority! 
  • If you would like to have your college applications mailed before Christmas break, check with the Counseling Center on the application deadline. 

  • Submit your FASFA form if you have not done it already (keeping copies of all submitted forms). 
  • Parents: Consider preparing tax returns early in case they are needed for determining financial aid eligibility. 
  • Admission decision letters may begin to arrive. Some process quickly and some much, much slower. When you are accepted, be aware of deadlines to make a final decision on actually attending and submitting your deposit. 

  • Make sure that you have communicated to Mrs. Arieno in the Counseling Center, which colleges are asking for midyear reports and transcripts. These colleges typically have a midyear report form that you sign when you submit your application. 

  • Contact the college financial aid offices to ensure you have completed all the necessary paperwork. 
  • Your SAR (Student Aid Report) containing federal financial aid information should be arriving in the mail. If you haven’t received the SAR and it has been at least four weeks after you submitted your FAFSA, you can check on it by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (319) 337-5665. 

  • Compare financial aid award letters from the schools to which you have been accepted. 
  • Decide which college you want to attend and check with that college on the particulars of signing and returning the financial aid award letter. Make sure your deposit is sent in by the deadline. 
  • As a courtesy, let the other colleges know that you will not be attending. 
  • Become familiar with other important deadlines at your chosen college. 

  • Stay focused in school. Don’t let "senioritis" impact your final course grades! 
  • Report your scholarship awards to the counseling center. 
  • Graduate with the pride of not only being an Aquinas graduate, but with the knowledge that you have made a thorough and educated decision regarding the continuation of your academic journey.
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