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College Planning Guide
  • The following planner is designed as a guide to the whole process. While this planner is applicable to many institutions, it is influenced by the admission and financial aid processes at Capital University. Learn more by viewing our Capital Guide for High School Sophomores and Juniors (PDF). 

    Freshman Year


    While selecting fall courses, review with your guidance counselor the minimum requirements for university admission and adjust your schedule if necessary. It is important to make sure that the courses follow the high school’s college preparatory curriculum. (This review should be repeated each time you select courses.)
    Capital recommends the following years of each subject area:

    • 4 years of English
    • 3 years of mathematics
    • 3 years of science (2 years of labs)
    • 3 years of social science
    • 2 years of 1 foreign language
    • 1 year of fine arts

    Sophomore Year

    February - May

    Prepare a personal inventory by writing answers to the following: 

    • Why do I want to go to a university?
    • What subjects do I really enjoy?
    • What am I thinking about studying?
    • What size university would I prefer?
    • What are my strengths, weaknesses, needs and aspirations?
    • Do I want a university located in a metropolitan or a rural setting?

    Explore careers by shadowing someone in a field that is of interest to you.

    Review college sites and any computer programs that may be available in your high school guidance department.

    Take the Preliminary ACT (PLAN) as preparation for the ACT.

    Junior Year

    September - November

    Attend college fairs; meet with university representatives visiting your school. Consider all universities that match your personal inventory regardless of cost.


    Identify university characteristics important to you: 

    • Majors and educational programs
    • Type of school
    • Location and size
    • University accreditation and academic reputation

    Talk with your guidance counselor regarding your academic interests.

    Register to take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) as preparation for the SAT I


    Develop a list of institutions that possess characteristics you identified as important. Sources of information include: college catalogs, viewbooks, videos, college representatives, current students, guidance counselors, teachers, handbooks, computerized information systems, Web sites and open houses.

    March - August

    Campus visits: Schedule your visit at least two weeks in advance and specify things you would like to do:

    • Take a campus tour
    • Interact with students and faculty
    • Attend classes
    • Investigate your academic, co-curricular and athletic areas of interest
    • Verify admission process and criteria
    • Discuss scholarship and financial aid procedures
    • Discuss your own admission potential.

    You should allow at least three hours for each visit and try to schedule a meal in the student dining area. Be sure to be on time, dress neatly and arrive with specific questions (refer to important characteristics you developed earlier). Family vacations are an excellent time for initial visits to university campuses.

    Attend spring open houses.

    April - June

    Register and take the ACT or SAT I. Results should be received within a month.

    Senior Year

    September - November

    • Create an admission and financial aid file.
    • Make note (on your calendar) of admission, financial aid and scholarship deadlines.
    • Request admission applications. You can apply to Capital online!
    • Continue visits to university campuses. By now your visits should be targeted.
    • Attend open houses.
    • Retake the ACT or SAT I.
    • Attend financial aid workshops.
    • Review, with your guidance counselor, scholarships offered by community.
    • Check reference books and computer programs at your high school or library for other sources of scholarships and grants.
    • Meet university representatives at your school.
    • Finalize the list of universities to which you will apply for admission.


    Complete all admission applications, review for accuracy and mail promptly. Your guidance counselor may wish to send your application and transcript together.

    Institutions should acknowledge receipt within two weeks. Once your admission file is complete, some institutions (such as Capital) will notify you quickly while others will notify all applicants at one time (late March to early April).

    January - March

    • Complete parents’ and your IRS 1040 Form and retain copies for financial aid file.
    • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online once your federal tax returns are completed and make copies of all documents for your files. (Beginning in April, Capital prepares financial aid awards within 10 days after files are complete.)

    Some schools also may require a supplemental form in addition to the FAFSA, so it is important to get all of the necessary forms. You should notify each university of your plans to accept or deny the package as soon as possible.

    Once your FAFSA has been processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Verify the information. If you need to make changes or you want the FAFSA sent to additional schools, make changes on the SAR and return the form to the processing company.

    Pursue admission and financial aid decisions with universities to which you applied.


    • Compare financial aid awards from each university (i.e., "out-of-pocket" expense, total loans versus other forms of aid) and inquire about tuition payment options. Capital offers several payment options.
    • Make your final university selection by May 1.