College Counseling Four-Year Calendar

College Counseling Four-Year Calendar

View the calendar below to stay on track during your path to college.

Freshman Year
  • Stay organized and use your planner.
  • Be sure to turn in all your homework.
  • Study hard and get excellent grades. Strive to make the honor roll (3.0 or higher) and make sure you don’t get any D's or F's.
  • Ask for help or go to tutoring after school if you fall behind or do not understand something.
  • Strengthen your vocabulary by increasing your reading.
  • Become involved in co-curricular activities and activities outside of school. Consider joining clubs, running for student government, auditioning for the school play, trying out for Gateway sports, getting a job or internship, etc.
  • Find a community service activity that you love to do. Keep track of your hours of service.
  • Meet with your advisor and discuss your plans for the next four years. Create your Gateway four-year plan.
  • Understand Gateway’s graduation requirements and the requirements to get into a UC college.
  • Ask older students in your advisory for advice about how to succeed in high school.
  • Keep a record of your academic accomplishments and extra-curricular activities.
  • Introduce yourself to Gateway’s College Counselors.
  • Research college and career possibilities.
  • Begin saving money for college.
Sophomore Year

Fall Semester

  • Stay organized and use your planner.
  • Make sure you turn in all your homework.
  • Study hard and get excellent grades. Strive to make the honor roll (3.0 or higher) and make sure you don’t get any D's or F's.
  • Take the PSAT for practice. The results will not be used for college admission.
  • Sign up, if you have not done so already, for co-curricular activities that interest you. The level of involvement and accomplishment is most important, not the number of activities. Find something you love to do and get really involved in it.
  • Keep a record of your co-curricular involvement, volunteer work, and employment (all year).
  • Make sure you are "on top" of your academic work. Ask for help or go to tutoring after school if you fall behind or do not understand something.
  • Study hard for your finals; make sure your semester grades are as high as possible.
  • Review Gateway’s graduation requirements and the UC A-G requirements to make sure you are on track.

Spring Semester

  • Receive results from the PSAT. Read materials sent with your score report. Consult your advisor to explore ways to improve on future standardized tests and to discuss which courses may be required or beneficial for your post-high school plans.  
  • Volunteer, it's a great way to identify your interests and to develop skills.
  • It is never too early to start researching colleges and universities. Visit the College Counseling Office to browse through literature and guidebooks or surf the web and check out college and university homepages.
  • NACAC has developed a list of on-line resources to help you in the college admission process called Web Resources for the College-Bound.
  • Continue to research career options and consider possible college majors that will help you achieve your career goals.
  • Meet with your advisor to pick courses for next year. Update your four-year plan. Consider challenging yourself with honors or AP classes.
  • By early spring, you should begin planning how you will productively use your summer. Consider taking a summer course or participating in a special program (e.g., for prospective engineers or journalists or for those interested in theatre or music) at a local college or community college. Consider working or volunteering. Do something interesting that helps you develop new skills. 
  • If you work, save some of your earnings for college.  
  • During the summer, you may want to sign up for a PSAT/SAT prep course, use computer software, or do the practice tests in books designed to familiarize you with standardized tests.  
  • Make your summer productive. Continue reading to increase your vocabulary. 
Junior Year

Fall Semester

  • Junior year grades are extremely important in the college admission process, because they are a measure of how well you do in advanced, upper-level courses. Grades also are used to determine scholarships and grants for which you may be eligible. So put in the extra effort and keep those grades up. Do all your homework and strive for the honor roll.
  • You will take the PSAT in October.
  • Junior year PSAT scores may qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Competition and the National Achievement and the National Hispanic Scholars Programs. So, even though these scores will not be used for college admission, do your very best on the PSAT. The more times you take standardized tests, the more familiar you will become with the format and the types of questions asked. If you wish to receive free information from colleges, indicate on the PSAT test answer form that you want to participate in the Student Search.
  • During the fall, admissions officers from colleges and universities across the country visit Gateway to talk about their schools. Sign up for some of these meetings and learn about colleges that might interest you.
  • Have a family discussion about factors that may effect your college search, e.g., finances, proximity to home. Parents: if you are setting any specific parameters, now is the time to share them with your son/daughter.
  • Stay involved in co-curricular activities at school and community service. Take on leadership roles when possible. Keep a record of all that you do.
  • If you will require financial aid, start researching your options for grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. A good starting place: NACAC's Web Resources for the College-Bound to do research on your own using the Internet.
  • Save your best graded papers, with teacher comments. Some colleges ask for a graded paper as part of the college application, so don’t throw any of your work out.

Spring Semester

  • During spring of your junior year, you will be enrolled in Gateway’s college counseling class. In this class, you will receive instruction on mastering the SAT and begin researching colleges. Be sure to make the most of your college counseling class, it’s a great resource for you.
  • In January, you should receive the results of your PSAT. Read your score report and consult your college counselor to determine how you might improve on future standardized tests.
  • Begin to make a preliminary list of colleges you would like to investigate further. Surf the Internet and use the college resources at school.
  • Set up a family meeting with your college counselor todiscuss your preliminary list of colleges. Discuss whether your initial list of colleges meets your needs and interests (academic program, size, location, cost, etc.) and whether you are considering colleges where you are likely to be admitted. You should be optimistic and realistic when applying to colleges. Discuss standardized tests that you will need to take and make a calendar of test dates for yourself.
  • Write, telephone, or use the Internet to request admission literature and financial aid information from the colleges on your list. There is no charge and no obligation to obtain general information about admission and financial aid.
  • When selecting your senior courses, be sure to continue to challenge yourself academically. Update your four-year plan. Talk over your course selections with your parents and your advisor.
  • Look into summer jobs or apply for special summer academic or enrichment programs. Colleges love to see students using their knowledge and developing their skills and interests.
  • Attend a college fair to get more information about colleges on your list. NACAC sponsors college fairs in cities across the country during the fall and the spring. Visit NACAC's National College Fairs webpage to check out the schedule for the National College Fairs and the Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs.
  • Get a jump start on summer activities. Consider enrolling in an academic course at a local college, pursuing a summer school program, applying for an internship, working, or volunteering. If you work, save part of your earnings for college.
  • After school ends, get on the road to visit colleges. Phone to set up appointments. Seeing the college firsthand, taking a tour, and talking to students can be the greatest help in deciding whether or not a school is right for you. Although it is ideal to visit colleges during the academic year, going in the summer will be valuable. Admission offices employ their students to give tours and answer questions from prospective students and their parents.
  • Talk to teachers about possible recommendations.
  • Relax, recharge, and read, read, read. Reading helps for the SATs and interviews.
  • Brainstorm ideas for your college essay.
  • Work on areas of weakness to prepare for tests (i.e. math skills and vocabulary). 
Senior Year

August – January

  • Understand that your first semester could be a definitive factor. Doing well with a strong schedule can make a difference. Colleges look carefully at seniors’ first semester grades. 
  • During the fall of your senior year, you will be enrolled in Gateway’s college counseling course. In college counseling, you will finalize your list of colleges, draft personal statements, fill out applications, research scholarships, and more. 
  • Attend a regional college fair to investigate further those colleges to which you will probably apply. Visit theCollege Fairs section on NACAC's website to view the schedule for NACAC's National College Fairs and the Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs.
  • As you finalize your list of colleges, make sure you have all applications required for college admission and financial aid. Write, phone, or use the Internet to request missing information. Discuss list of 10-15 colleges with parents, counselors, friends, and teachers.
  • Check on application and financial aid deadlines for the schools to which you plan to apply. They may vary and it is essential to meet all deadlines. Make a calendar.
  • Meet with your college counselor to be sure your list includes colleges appropriate to your academic and personal record.
  • Make sure you have taken all the required standardized tests. If not, register for the October test date.
  • If the colleges require recommendations, ask the appropriate people to write on your behalf. At least three weeks before the due date, ask your counselor and teachers, employers, or coaches to write letters of recommendation. Provide recommendation forms, any special instructions, and a stamped, addressed business envelope to the people writing your recommendation. Be thoughtful. Write thank-you notes to those who write recommendations and keep them informed of your decisions.
  • Plan visits to colleges and set up interviews (if you didn't get to them during the summer or if you want to return to a campus for a second time). Read bulletin boards and the college newspaper. Talk with current students and professors.
  • UC & CSU applications are available online. CSU application filing period is in October and UC application filing period is in November. 
  • Mail applications in time to reach the colleges by the deadlines. Check with your college counselor to make sure your transcript and test scores have been/will be sent to the colleges to which you are applying. Deadlines range from October – January. 
  • Be sure your first semester grades are strong. Colleges will look at these grades as part of your application. Do well on final exams – it’s important. 
  • October 1: Obtain a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) from your college counselor. Check to see if the colleges to which you are applying require any other financial aid form. Register for the CSS Profile if required and obtain the college's own financial aid forms, if available.
  • If you completed a FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within four weeks after submitting the FAFSA. Review the SAR carefully and check for any inaccuracies. If necessary, correct any items on the SAR and return it to the FAFSA processor (if a college transmitted your data directly, notify the college of any change).
  • If more than four weeks have passed after sending in your FAFSA and you have not received an acknowledgment, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (319) 337-5665. To identify you, they will need your name, social security number, address, and date of birth exactly as it was written on your FAFSA.
  • Review scholarship opportunities on College Counseling website.
  • Keep all records, test score reports, and copies of applications for admission and financial aid. Do not throw anything away until at least the end of your first year in college. Having detailed records will save you time and effort should anything be lost or should you decide to apply in the future to other colleges and scholarship programs.
  • Mid-year Reports sent to colleges from College Counseling Office except for UC and CSU schools, which do not require mid-year grades. 

February – March

  • Keep working hard in your classes. Grades and courses continue to count throughout the senior year.
  • Parents and students, complete your income tax forms as soon as possible. You will need those figures to fill out the FAFSA. Submit your FAFSA before March 2 to be eligible for the Cal Grant. Check to make sure your colleges do not require any other financial aid forms. If they do, consult your guidance counselor or contact the college's financial aid office.
  • Remember to monitor your applications to be sure that all materials are sent and received on time and that they are complete. Stay on top of things and don't procrastinate; you can ruin your chances for admission by missing a deadline.
  • Complete scholarship applications. You may be eligible for more scholarships than you think, so apply for as many as you can.
  • Enjoy your final year in high school, but don't catch senioritis.


  • Most admission decisions received this month.
  • Many opportunities to revisit campuses.
  • Do not take rolling admission applications for granted. (Some colleges do not have application deadlines; they admit students on a continuous basis.) These schools may reach their maximum class size quickly - the earlier you apply, the more availability there may be.
  • Review your college acceptances and financial aid awards. Be sure to compare financial aid packages in your decision-making process. If you are positive you will not enroll at one or more of the colleges which accepted you, please notify those colleges that you have selected another college. Keeping colleges abreast of your plans might enable those colleges to admit someone else. If you know which college you will attend, send your tuition deposit and follow all other instructions for admitted students. You must decide which offer of admission to accept by May 1 (postmark date).
  • Inform the College Counseling Office of your news.


  • By May 1, decide on the one college that you will attend. By May 1, send in your tuition deposit to the college you will attend. Notify the other colleges that accepted you that you have selected another college.
  • BE PROUD-you have completed a difficult task.
  • If your first-choice college places you on their waiting list, do not lose all hope. Some students are admitted off the waiting list. Talk with your counselor, and contact the college to let them know you are still very interested. Keep the college updated on your activities.


  • Submit a request for Gateway to send your final transcript to the college you will attend. Notify the college of any private scholarships or grants you will be receiving.
  • Know when the payment for tuition, room and board, meal plans, etc., is due. If necessary, ask the financial aid office about a possible payment plan that will allow for you to pay in installments.
  • Congratulations, you've made it through high school. Enjoy your graduation and look forward to college.
  • Take charge of the changes that lie ahead and eliminate or minimize pressures. Go forth with confidence and enthusiasm, willingness to adapt, and determination to succeed academically and personally.
  • Pack for college. Don't forget to include things that remind you of friends and family. Be prepared for the new opportunities and challenges. Have a great freshman year.