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11th Grade To-Do List

College application checklist high school junior 11th gradeAccording to College Admissions Officers, your performance in the 11th Grade is the most important year of high school, unlike the 12th grade, when only your first semester performance (and not even that if you are applying earlier) will be evaluated before the deadlines.

Take advantage of the 11th Grade when you will not be distracted by college applications and can focus completely on school. Toward the end of the school year is the best time to choose your recommenders as they will have known you for a full year. 

Check out the other lists for 9th, 10th, and 12th grade to review and plan ahead.

Summer Between 10th & 11th Grades

  • Network: Talk with college friends who are home for the summer about their school experiences. Get suggestions of colleges from friends who are entering the 12th grade.
  • Update your College Brochures:You will receive the bulk of college materials in 11th grade. Discard any college brochures you are definitely not interested in.
  • Log on to the Common Application and/or Naviance: See what information each requires.
  • Honors and Awards Outside of School: Research this topic on The Common Application website and on related sites and blogs.
  • Student Resume: Update it regularly.
  • Portfolio: Continue to save appropriate material. (See "10th Grade To Do List").


  • Find out about Required Standardized Tests from The College Board: Figure out which test (SAT or ACT) suits you better.
  • Keep track of each test you plan to take during the 11th and 12th grades.
  • Ask Your Counselor about SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams: Add the dates to your calendar.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Continue to participate in activities you have already committed to, and whenever possible, pursue leadership roles.
  • Community Service: Continue to volunteer and keep track of your hours.
  • College Reps: Attend meetings at your high school or in your area with representatives from colleges that interest you.
  • Academic Support: If you are having difficulty with any subject (getting below a "B") talk to your counselor about academic assistance. The earlier you do this, the better.


  • Check out all types of local and state universities and colleges; public, private, large, small, urban, suburban, rural, etc.
  • Make a list of where you felt most comfortable and would have the best learning/social environment.
  • Use your school breaks throughout the year to visit colleges, especially ones that are far away from home.
  • Call admission offices to schedule tours, interviews, financial aid appointments, overnight stays in dorms, classes that you want to audit, etc. Meeting professors or Department heads will require emailing them directly.
  • Jot down your impressions of each school and review them when you begin deciding where to apply. If you do not take notes, the colleges will blend together and your trips will have been in vain.


  • Narrow Down Your College List: Select 3-4 schools in each of these categories:

    • Safeties/Liklies: Schools to which you have about a 75% chance or higher of being admitted, where your scores are above the average.
    • 50/50: Schools at which you have a 50% chance of admission.
    • Reaches: Your chances of being admitted are 30% or less.
  • Plan Your 12th Grade Summer: Colleges scrutinize your summers, particularly the one before 12th grade. Find programs that show your resourcefulness and desire to challenge yourself. March and April are the times to apply for the best programs.
  • Research: Paying summer jobs, interesting internships, volunteer work in your community, enrichment programs for high school students, or anything that you have done in the past for which you can now assume a leadership role.

Ready, Aim, Fire!

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It's time to start your college search. But not so fast. Do a little research first. Check out informative college websites, take an online tour, read reliable college guide books and get feedback from friends who are already in college. Deciding where you will fit in and thrive for four years to come is a journey with many detours. So don't rush it. Give yourself plenty of time to get lost, change directions or stop and refuel.


Try It On First

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How do you know where you want to go to college? What do you do to find out? The answer is found through personal experience. Visit a variety of local colleges and universities. You need to hang out at a sprawling state university, sit in on a seminar at a small liberal arts college, check out an 8'x10' dorm room, and eavesdrop on students in the dining hall. After doing this personal research, you'll be surprised at what fits, and what doesn't.


Highlight Your Passion

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Colleges want a renaissance class made up of all types of students. What is your special talent? What sets you apart? Everyone has something they are passionate about, whether it’s quirky, off-the-beaten-path or more mainstream. Your individual passion is the thing that sets you apart from other college applicants and will ultimately round out a diverse class. Susan's specialty is to draw out your uniqueness and show you how to successfully communicate “who you are.”


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