Admission Information

College Planning

USF student lying on a bench swing on campus.

college planning checklist

Planning for college throughout high school can help you start your undergraduate degree with a solid foundation for success. Also, even if you’re not sure if you want to attend college, preparing in high school can ensure that college is an option for you upon graduation.

Want to learn more about what to expect in each year? Select your grade level below and see what’s on your college planning checklist.

What Year Are You in?

Freshman year

Your road to college starts in your freshman year of high school. The following are several things you should do in 9th grade to get started on your college path:

  • Create your schedule: Arrange your four-year class schedule to make sure you're taking the required classes.
  • Develop good study habits: Determine what study methods work best for you and put them into practice.
  • Start saving: It's never too early to start putting money aside for college.
  • Take advantage of summer vacation: Start using your summers to participate in meaningful activities, such as volunteering, to help you discover what you’re passionate about and add experience to your resume.

For more detailed information on what you can do in your freshman year to start preparing for college, view our checklist.

Download the Freshman Year Checklist

sophomore year

In your sophomore year, you can start to challenge yourself more academically, get more involved in extracurriculars, and begin preparing for standardized tests. You should also start to begin looking at colleges and considering whats important to you.

  • Continue taking the right classes: Create or review your four-year academic plan to
    ensure you’re on track to take required classes, such as your foreign language.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT or Pre-ACT tests: Prepare and register for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and the PreACT®.
  • Challenge yourself academically: Start taking honors and advanced placement (AP) classes if you haven’t already.
  • Start the college search: Now is the time to start attending college fairs, making a tentative list of colleges, and planning college visits.
  • Meet with your high school counselor: Start to discuss college requirements and what colleges you may be interested in.
  • Research potential credit-generating courses: Determine whether you are ready for Advanced Placement (AP) or Dual Enrollment courses that can earn you college credits while you are still in high school.

Get a detailed look at what you should be doing in your sophomore year to prepare for college in our checklist.

Download the Sophomore Year Checklist

junior year

College prep starts to really heat up in your junior year. From studying for the SAT/ACT to considering which colleges you want to apply to, you should accomplish the following in your junior year.

Get a detailed view of everything you need to do in your junior year with our checklist.

Download the Junior Year Checklist

senior year

Your senior year of high school is the culmination of your high school journey. Stay focused on your academic goals and finish the college application process strong to ensure a smooth transition to college.

  • Finalize your list of colleges: It’s time to start narrowing down which colleges you are going to apply to and identifying your top choices. 
  • Consider your career path: Think about what you’re passionate about and how that can inform your potential majors of interest and career path. 
  • Research and apply for scholarships: Use scholarship search sites, talk to your college counselor, and identify other corporate and community opportunities. 
  • Research potential university pathway programs. Once you've narrowed your search down to your top choices, research if they have any freshman or transfer pathway programs you can take advantage of for benefits like guaranteed admission, scholarships or other exclusive opportunities.
  • Lay the groundwork for letters of recommendation: If you need letters of recommendation for college applications, start reaching out to potential writers ahead of time. Keep in mind that USF does not require letters of recommendations and will not review them during the application process.
  • Prepare for the SAT/ACT/CLT: Whether you’re taking the SAT, ACT or CLT for the first time or re-taking it in hopes of getting a better score, make sure you leave plenty of time to take the test and send your scores to your top colleges. 

Your senior year is packed with college to-dos and activities. Stay on track of it all with our checklist.

Download the Senior Year Checklist