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Regardless of whether you are senior in high school taking the ACT for the third time, or an incoming freshman starting to learn about what schools are out there, it is crucial to have a plan.

Here is our plan for you:   

How does it work?

The first thing you will need to do is take a look at this four-year high school plan we have shared with you. Having this type of guidance back when I was a freshman improved my odds of acceptance and financial aid packages. These are the most important steps you and your family will need to complete to maximize your odds of getting into the college or university of your dreams.

As you can see, there are three areas of responsibility (Student, Parent & Student and the Household). If you look closely, you can see how as the lighter the color begins to fade, the later it gets for you to finish the step. Throughout the course, we will break down and explain every step in more detail.

Freshmen and Sophomore year of High School

This timeline will break down the appropriate steps you should take respective to your current high school grade. For example, if you are a freshman or sophomore, you should already have an estimate of your family’s Expected Family ContributionYou should also have an idea of some possible College Majors & Career Interests.

It is also important to assess the future coursework for Junior and Senior year–we recommend taking at least two AP classes per year and taking honors courses to improve your odds of landing merit-based academic scholarships and grants! In addition, freshmen and sophomore students should also be preparing for the PSAT and should begin studying for the ACT/SAT exams.

Junior and Senior year of High School


You have probably heard junior year is the most important year of high school. In reality, colleges will look at all four years of high school but the reason why junior year is so important is that the quality of your work during your junior year will pave the way for your senior year’s success. 

For instance, if you Start your College Search in November of your senior year as opposed to August of junior year, you will not have a lot of time to start a List of Potential Colleges. Starting the process this late also causes students to miss out on  Early Action and Early Decision applications. 

A lot of students make the mistake of missing out on both financial aid and early admissions application deadlines. Students need to be on top of their game during their junior year!    

If you are a senior in high school do not forget to start your common application early in the year and remember to take your SAT & ACT tests early on if you plan on applying Early Action or Early Decision. Above all, remember to complete the financial aid forms for both the FAFSA and CSS Profile as these can help you earn thousands of dollars in federal, state, institutional and in some cases, state scholarship aid.

Are you behind?

If you are a sophomore, junior or senior in high school and have not completed some of these steps, do not worry. Best College Aid was designed to give you timely access to all the information you need to catch-up and you will also learn how to get your application done before the earlier college application deadlines.

In conclusion, remember it is never too early to start looking for the right college. Keep in mind that depending on your state, the timeline might look a little bit different. 

Do not get overwhelmed and take every step at a time as this will help you stay organized and motivated. 


Francisco Cantu

Francisco Cantu

Best College Aid Instructor

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Best College Aid

Help your kids to succeed: Education is Key! Make a plan that helps them get into college with the best financial aid possible!