I have compiled the following list laying the college application timeline including activities high school students should be pursuing during each grade level to build up their academic, extra-curricular, and leadership backgrounds to develop a competitive background in order to be admitted to a top tiered university.
College Application Timeline
- The GPA is the most important factor, therefore, maintain at least a GPA of 3.70+. Students can begin as early as this year to take community college classes at certain campuses such as Foothill College and Mission College because they do not have an age limit.
- Consider joining 1-2 clubs in high school. Become familiar with the club and get to know the other members.
- Begin volunteer work and complete 5 – 8 hours per month if possible, and at least 50 hours by year’s end. Finding places to volunteer may be difficult during this grade level because many organizations require students to be at least 16 years old.
- Begin thinking and exploring your interests to turn them into projects in or outside of school. A good way to explore interests is by enrolling in out-of-school classes, such as STEM classes or camps. One excellent STEM program is https://www.idtech.com/ designed primarily for students in middle school and grades 9 and 10 for students interested in computer science or engineering.
- Continue to take community college classes to leverage the GPA. This is also a good way to continue to earn college credit to reduce the course work upon entering college.
- By now, you should be in 2-3 clubs, working your way to becoming an officer. Consider joining more clubs if time permits. Show your commitment in the club to gain votes to become an officer in grade 11.
- You should complete at least 100 hours of volunteer work by year’s end for a grand total of 150+ hours from years 9 and 10.
- Create a project based upon your interests such as a web site, art book, student journal, a club, a business, or a non-profit. This will take a great deal of time and commitment, therefore, it is best to start this year and develop it into the next year to gain popularity.
- This is the last year to take community college classes to leverage the GPA. This is the year that high school students are qualified to take classes at any community college. Students can do this into the summer before the UC and CSU stops factoring in the GPA since they only factor in grades 10 and 11.
- By this year, you should have a grand total of 3 – 5 clubs on your resume. Being an officer in any club is ideal starting this year, and if not, then next year.
- If you are the captain of your high school’s JV sports team, this counts as a leadership role.
- AS or ASB (Associated Students Body), or student government, or being in band for music lovers also looks excellent on the resume.
- You should complete another 100 hours of volunteer work by year’s end, or a high school cumulative of 200-300 hours. Three hundred hours or more before the start of the application season is ideal.
- By this year, you should be an officer in at least 1 or 2 clubs and/or a captain of a sports team.
- Some students choose to be a staff member or editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper or yearbook.
- You should have 300+ hours of volunteer work at the beginning of senior year, and if you do not, you have until the end of October before the first round of applications are due (November 1 for EA and ED deadlines) to increase your volunteer hours.
- Keep in mind application deadlines: Early Action & Early Decision deadline is November 1 for the majority of universities, and Nov. 15 for some. The next round is the UC, CSU applications, which are due on Nov. 30, followed by Dec. 1 for the Texas and the Penn State applications.
Now that you have a good understanding of the college application timeline, students and parents must take action to achieve the above activities appropriate for each grade level. Admission into a reach university requires an understanding of the college admissions timeline and the exceptions of the top ranking and most competitive universities. Click here to schedule a free consultation.