High School Freshmen and Sophomores

A college degree can provide you with more career options, a higher income, and skills that will assist you throughout your life. The sooner you start to plan for life after high school, the better your chances of success in college.

The checklists below can be helpful as you plan for college.

The Fund My Future "How To Pay For College" booklet (also available in Spanish) contains checklists with the items below and more.

The Guidance Counselor: Your Best Ally

Speak with your guidance counselor to keep up with everything from your grades to your class rank. Your guidance counselor can help make sure you are on the right track to graduate on time with the courses you need.

Freshman Year Checklist

  • Talk to your guidance counselor to ensure your course schedule is preparing you for college. Many Arkansas scholarships require students take Smart Core, the college and career ready set of courses that is the default curriculum for all Arkansas public high schools. Remember, the courses a student takes in the 9th grade set the stage for the remainder of their high school career.

  • You and your family should continue to put extra dollars into a college fund.

  • Start to learn about available college financial aid and federal/state resources, and how you can use them to help pay for college.

  • If possible, take part in programs or courses offered on college campuses near your home. Seeing different campuses and experiencing campus life at an early age can help you see yourself as a future college student.

  • Be involved in extracurricular activities. Participation in clubs, athletic teams, music groups, journalism, etc. will be an important factor in many college admission decisions.

  • Keep track of your extracurricular activities, volunteerism, awards, or leadership in a notebook or folder. You’ll be asked to list these on college applications, as well as write essays reflecting on the experiences.

Sophomore Year Checklist

  • Register for and take the PSAT (pre-SAT) and/or the PreACT. This provides a good chance to practice for these important college entrance tests. The SAT and ACT web sites both offer free practice tests, as do web sites that focus specifically on college entrance preparation, such as www.number2.com and www.march2success.com.

  • Consider your career interests and goals. Talk with your school counselor and others about them and find out the kind of education you will need to meet these goals.

  • Make sure once again your course schedule is matching up with your intended diploma and the career path you want to pursue.

  • Begin considering what you may want in a college. Search web sites and other resources for more information on colleges that peak your interest.

  • Start visiting colleges. Schedule a tour or attend a general information session at area colleges. Virtual or online, visits to a college are an inexpensive way to check out many of the things a college has to offer. eCampusTours.com offers virtual college tours with 360° views of thousands of different schools all in one website.

  • Be sure to continue documenting your in-school achievements and activities (athletics, music, etc.).

Continue to save for college. The federal government assumes every family will contribute something toward the cost of attending college.