Whether you are considering a two-year or four-year college, the time to start planning for college is now. Beginning as early as 6th grade, you can take steps to ensure that you’re ready—not only to apply to college but to actually succeed in your courses. These resources will help you and your family stay on track during the years to come!

Already in High School?

Start by downloading this document. It will help you through the process every step of the way:

High School College Preparation
Download to Stay on Track for College


Then, visit to learn the tips, tools, and details for all of these important steps, from choosing where to apply, practicing and preparing your application(s), and sending your high school transcript to over 110 North Carolina colleges and universities.

And, don’t forget to have a checklist handy. You’ll find an expanded checklist of of college preparation tasks to complete on, but below is a year-by-year overview of what high school students should be doing to prepare for college so that you can start planning.

Freshman Year:

  • Create your FREE User Profile.
  • Review typical course requirements for admission at colleges that interest you, or ask your school counselor for best options. Consider Career and College Promise options to earn college credit during high school.

Early Junior Year:

  • Start researching colleges and their admissions requirements and deadlines.
  • If you are considering a selective program at a North Carolina community college (e.g. nursing), check on course and test requirements.
  • Take steps to prepare for the SAT/ACT.
  • Look into summer enrichment programs.

Late Junior Year:

  • Take the SAT and/or ACT. Retake them if you think you can do better.
  • Narrow down the list of colleges you’ll apply to. Most counselors recommend applying to 5–8 schools.
  • Visit colleges you’re really interested in attending, if you can.
  • Start gathering letters of recommendation.
  • Prepare folders with checklists of admissions materials and deadlines for all your chosen schools.

Senior Year:

  • Gather all the materials you’ll need to apply to your colleges.
  • Decide whether you want to apply for Early Decision at your top choice schools. The deadline for these is usually around the beginning of senior year.
  • Start applying to colleges soon after they start accepting applications.
  • If you are attending a North Carolina community college, see if you need to take a placement test. You may qualify for entrance using “Multiple Measures” so that your GPA, high school courses, or SAT/ACT scores can take the place of typical placement tests in reading, English and math.

Still in Middle School?

At you can review our Planning Timeline that starts at 7th grade and continues all the way through college freshman year. is also a source of resources for important admissions test preparation, paying for college, and more.

Begin planning by creating a free User Profile, and have these tools and resources at your fingertips, all in one place, at any time.

Also, download and save this road map that will walk you through the steps to take while in middle school.

Middle School College Preparation