College Readiness Checklist

9th Grade

  • Complete your Naviance tasks

  • Meet with your high school counselor to discuss your schedule and graduation plan

  • Participate in at least 1 club or extra-curricular activity at school and/or in your community

  • Participate in at least 1 volunteer activity at school and/or in your community

10th Grade

  • Complete your Naviance tasks

  • Remain involved in extra-curricular and volunteer activities and think about obtaining a leadership position (ex. Vice President of Interact Club)

  • Create a resume

  • Register and take the 10th-grade PSAT

  • Begin searching and applying for scholarships

11th Grade

  • Meet with your high school counselor/school mentor to revisit your graduation plan and talk about your college options

  • Register for challenging 12th-grade courses

  • Remain involved in extra-curricular and volunteer activities, preferably with a leadership position in at least one of those activities

  • Register and take the 11th-grade PSAT

  • Register for the ACT or SAT

  • Begin researching colleges and financial aid options by speaking with your school counselor or navigating the resources in Naviance

  • Attend college representative sessions at your school, in the community, or local campuses

  • Draft your college personal essay

  • Ask two teachers and your counselor to write letters of recommendation on your behalf

  • Continue searching and applying for scholarships

  • Create a list of about 10-15 colleges that interest you and research information such as size, location, admission requirements for each school

12th Grade

  • Finalize your college list (recommended: no more than 10 colleges)

  • Match your Common Application to Naviance

  • Attend college representative sessions and if possible, visit college campuses

  • Remain involved in extra-curricular and volunteer activities

  • Update your résumé

  • Submit college applications and supporting materials, such as test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts before deadlines

  • Continue searching and applying for scholarships

  • Submit financial aid applications before deadlines (FAFSA, MHEC, CSS PROFILE, and school financial aid forms as needed)

  • Connect with the City Schools Navigator Center to help you successfully enroll in college, sign up for classes, complete health and immunization forms, housing documents. and more.

Finding the Right College for You

There are thousands of college and universities for you to explore and lots of them might feel perfect. When considering colleges, it's important for you to consider your academic, financial, and personal preferences - what are your "deal breakers" and where are you willing to compromise? Your research and investigation should considering the following:

Academic Fit

  • Does this school have majors and academic areas of study that interest you? 

  • Is this school the right size? Will you learn best in large lectures with 400 students or in a smaller classroom with a discussion based focus? 

  • Does this school have a helpful career center with internship and job opportunities? 

Social Fit

  • Distance from home: how are is too far? Are you will to take a train, bus, car, or plane to campus? 

  • Location: How comfortable will you be in a rural setting or a suburban setting? Must the school offer access to public transportation 

  • Does this school offer clubs, hobbies, sports, diversity, religious, health care services, study abroad or other leadership opportunities that are important to you?

Financial Fit 

  • Is this school generous with merit-based or need-based financial aid?

  • Have you found special scholarship programs through the financial aid office website? 

  • Is this school in the state of Maryland and are you eligible for state funding with Maryland Higher Education Commission? 

Check out the City Schools Youtube Channel and CCR playlist for videos discussing college match and fit! 

Students filming

Applying to College

There are over 2,000 colleges and universities in the United States! It's important to choose the one that is right for you. Once a balanced college list has been established, students can begin applying through a variety of different applications, including:

Or students can also apply sometimes directly using a college's specific application listed on their website. We encourage students and families to utilize Naviance, the City Schools Navigator Center, and our professional school counselors for direct support.

Naviance Resources

Financial Aid and Scholarships

One of the MOST important steps in the college application process is applying for financial aid. There are a few main sources to get funding for college: 

  • Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) 

  • State Financial Aid 

  • Institutional Aid 

  • Outside Scholarships