Getting accepted to college is the successful completion of a path that begins in 9th grade, or even earlier. It’s a big accomplishment, but the process is really just a series of smaller steps. If you focus on one step at a time, you can achieve your college admission goal.

We provide information and tips in our courses to help you apply and prepare for private or independent colleges and universities as well.

Use this checklist as an information resource and planner. A College Readiness Calendar is included, with a checklist of steps for students and parents beginning in 9th grade.

Use the Preferred Colleges Checklist to keep of track of information you gather about schools that interest you.

For every aspect of the application process, detailed information is also available on the SOAR website. We have prepared a comprehensive program to help you navigate through it all. Plan to start early on your future. 

College Readiness Starts Here:

Preparing to Apply


Students should take the ACT (ACT Plus Writing) or SAT Reasoning Test by December of the senior year. Practice exams are available online at sat.collegeboard.org and actstudent.org.

The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) measures skills and knowledge students have accumulated in some areas over the course of their education. Students should take the test in the tenth grade or sooner, if possible, because they will receive personalized feedback on the academic skills needed for college. This will help them develop these skills and prepare for taking the SAT.

Academic Enrichment

Part of preparing for college admission is building a strong set of academic activities outside of high school. In addition to improving test scores and class performance, these pursuits will show that you are motivated to take on extra work to become a competitive applicant. And you can explore your special interests with classes and internships before declaring a college major.

These activities can include:

Summer session courses at a college

Writing and math workshops

Concurrent enrollment at community college

Summer internships

Extra-Curricular Activities

Colleges also look at non-academic activities that take place outside of school, including jobs (paid or unpaid), school-based activities (such as student government, service clubs, yearbook, etc.) or activities affiliated with a community organization or a faith-based group. Admissions officers prefer to see sustained participation in a few activities rather than a wide array of short-lived ones.

College Knowledge

College Knowledge is the information you gather about specific colleges and their “rightness” for you, and about financial aid, housing and other practical aspects of college.

Learn as much as you can about colleges that interest you. For example,  Researching the campuses that best suit your needs and academic strengths should begin early. Your high school counselor can help you decide.

Activities to deepen your College Knowledge include:

Researching colleges online

Visiting campuses in person

Attending financial aid and college application workshops