Twelve Must-Dos for High School Students Headed to College

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Although not listed in any particular order, below are twelve actions your students should take before graduating high school, most of which need to be completed before entering the 12th grade.

  1. Narrow down top college choices. In order to prepare well financially and academically, it will be very helpful to have your students choose several colleges that they may attend. This article will help you know which questions to ask when choosing preferred colleges.
  2. Check out state grants for dual enrollment and college. Most states offer grants for dual enrollment as well as colleges. Many times there are deadlines and requirements that must be met so the sooner you are aware of these opportunities, the better for planning ahead.
  3. Look at the four year plans for majors being considered. The four year track for majors such as engineering, nursing, or pre-professional pursuits will look quite different from a liberal arts major. When your students know ahead of time which majors they plan to pursue, then they can wisely choose which dual enrollment classes to take.
  4. Dual enroll when possible. Earning college credit and high school credit at the same time is great for the students able to handle college classes. Homeschoolers often make a few mistakes that can easily be avoided with intention.
  5. Check out CLEP and AP policies at colleges of choices. CLEP recently announced that students can take virtual tests from their homes! Policies vary from colleges that do not accept any CLEP credits to colleges that accept a wide number of CLEP credits. Knowing the policies of the top college choices will help your students plan well. Many homeschoolers enter college with more CLEP credits than colleges allow, meaning they may have wasted both money and time.
  6. Be aware of admissions policies at colleges of choice. Many colleges became test optional as a result of COVID restrictions. Whether these colleges remain test optional or not is yet to be seen. Find out admission requirements as soon as possible in order to be sure your students meet all the requirements necessary both for admission and for scholarship purposes.
  7. Take college entrance exams if required for state grants and/or college scholarships. Even though many colleges are test optional, state requirements often include ACT and/or SAT scores in order for homeschool students to qualify for the grants. Also, most test optional colleges will receive test scores submitted and use those scores if it earns the incoming student higher scholarship awards. And, although some colleges are test optional for admission purposes, they may still require test scores for academic scholarships.
  8. Fill out the FAFSA in October of senior’s year. It is better to do this sooner than later in case scholarships are first-come-first-serve, but waiting a few days into October may be preferable due to the fact that so many begin to fill out their FAFSA on October 1st that the website shuts down.
  9. Apply to colleges at the beginning of senior year (if not sooner). Certain colleges offer extra scholarship opportunities for qualifying seniors who have been accepted to their college.
  10. Take CLT10 when in 9th and 10th This is a free test offered 3 times a year. For a small price, parents can pay for the analytics. Tenth graders have the possibility of earning a $2500 scholarship to be used at the school of their choice.
  11. Take PSAT when in 11th grade. Pre-COVID this test was only offered in October. In 2021, a January test date was added. Although 9th and 10th graders can take this test for practice, it is the score earned by an 11th grader that will qualify for the student for a National Honors Merit Scholarship. Even a semi-finalist receives full tuition at Bryan College. This is an affordable test and a great option for students who are high scoring test takers.
  12. Attend scholarship events, workshops, and camps at desired colleges. A great way to have your students choose the college that is the best fit for them is to have them attend events at their top college choices whether that includes workshops, camps, and, most importantly, scholarship events. Taking every opportunity to earn scholarship funds is a no-brainer. Many times homeschool students miss out on these opportunities because they do not apply to colleges until close to their graduation dates.

When your students are aware of available opportunities, deadlines, and procedures, then their transition from high school to college will be much smoother than it will be if they wait until the end of their senior year to begin planning for college.


Pat Wesolowski is an author, speaker, and homeschooling mother of 9 who is now the Homeschool Specialist at Bryan College in Dayton, TN. After homeschooling her 9 children for the past 32 years, she is finally finished! Pat has a heart for helping parents find joy in their homeschooling experience and, for that reason, loves teaching workshops in order to encourage and equip parents for a fun and successful homeschool experience. Pat is the host of a podcast entitled “Homeschooling Co-op Style,” writes a blog, and has authored numerous unit studies for homeschooled students.  Pat has also written a free eResource to help parents plan for a successful high school experience. It is available to download at this link:


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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).