Meet with a guidance counselor and College Now advisor (August–May)
- Review junior year courses to make sure they are preparing you for college and make sure any College Credit Plus courses you enrolled in fit within your high school schedule.
Create (or update) your college resume. (December)
- Create a document that lists extracurriculars, athletics, clubs and volunteer engagement, as well as work experience. Include any awards or recognitions or special training. Provide dates for every entry. You’ll need this information for college applications and it will be helpful to have it all in one place.
Research available scholarships. (September–December)
- In addition to the Say Yes scholarship, there are other scholarships available for CMSD students, and some can help with non-tuition expenses. Check out College Now, The Cleveland Foundation, Esperanza, College Board, Cappex, FinAid, and RaiseMe. Make a list of the ones you want to apply to and the deadline dates and other requirements. No scholarship is too small to help reduce the cost to you and your family.
Take the PSAT. (October)
Attend the College Now/CMSD College Fair. (October)
- This fair is open to all CMSD juniors and seniors. Attend as a junior to get information from various colleges located in Greater Cleveland and around the country. Make special note of the ones with Say Yes signs. For students attending Ohio public colleges and universities or one of the 100+ private Say Yes compact schools, the Say Yes scholarship is a guaranteed tuition scholarship for students who meet residency and CMSD high school enrollment criteria.
Visit colleges (virtually or in person) (October–December).
Attend the HBCU Fair. (November)
Review the Common Application. (November)
- The Common Application for most colleges is released August 1 each year. Take a look at this now to see what kinds of questions are asked. The college application essay is a chance to explain who you are, to share your personality, talents, vision and spirit to the admissions committee. College Now offers regular workshops on how to write a good college essay.
Update your college list. (January)
- Now that you’ve seen some colleges, update your master list of colleges you in which you are interested. Don’t forget to track which ones are Say Yes-eligible. Talk to your guidance counselor and College Now staff about your tentative choices, and update your Naviance college list.
Take the SAT and/or ACT. (February–April)
- You should take the SAT/ACT at least three times. The CMSD administers an all-district SAT exam to every junior between February and April. For many students, this is the first time they take the exam. Then you should study for a second exam at the end of your junior year, in May or June, and after studying some more, you should take your third exam in early fall of your senior year (October, ideally, up through December). You should consider taking both the SAT and ACT—colleges will take your best score.
- Your guidance counselor or College Now Advisor can help you register for tests and get your fees waived. CMSD students are eligible for at least two test fee waivers in addition to the district-administered exam—make sure you use them!
- Khan Academy provides free personalized SAT, and College Now offers free test prep programs such as impact! to help prepare you for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT. Your score will almost certainly improve with practice.
Request teacher recommendations. (April–May)
- Identify two teachers or a teacher and your guidance counselor to write you recommendations for your college applications. Try to select someone with whom you’ve built a relationship and who has seen you grow and mature over your high school years. Ask if they can complete it before school ends so you can use it for any scholarships you might apply for over summer. You’ll definitely need them completed by the beginning of your senior year. Have a backup if one teacher can’t complete it in time.
Register for the SAT and/or ACT. (April–May)
- You should take the SAT/ACT for the second time in May or June of your junior year. Your score will very likely increase, especially if you’ve studied on Khan Academy or another study site. While you’re at it, consider registering now for your third exam in early fall of your senior year (October, ideally, up through December). You should consider taking both the SAT and ACT—colleges will take your best score.
- Your guidance counselor or College Now Advisor can help you register for tests and get your fees waived. CMSD students are eligible for at least two test fee waivers in addition to the district-administered exam—make sure you use them! College Now can often find additional test waivers too.