12th Grade: This is your year.
There’s still a lot to do, but this is the year it all pays off. Stay focused on the colleges or training programs for which you plan to apply and/or get organized for your spring job search. Ask for letters of recommendation. Make a budget for next year and think about what your choices will require. , If you’re hoping for financial aid, be sure to put in the time to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s time-consuming but totally worth it. Soon you’ll have an exciting decision to make about what’s next.
Celebrate your next big step!
Find out where you've qualified for college in Idaho.
If you're a senior at an Idaho public high school, the State Board of Education runs a program called Direct Admissions that lets you know the Idaho schools at which you already meet the admissions requirements.
Starting September 15, 2020 – you can access your Direct Admissions notification by creating an account on Apply Idaho, the state’s online common application.
- Learn more about what you’re supposed to do once you get your notification.
- Use the Idaho Colleges Directory to research your options.
- Explore Idaho’s 12 colleges in this helpful handbook from the Idaho Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
- Think about visiting colleges where you may want to apply.
- Use Apply Idaho to submit applications to the Idaho colleges and universities you may want to attend, with no application fee.
- Figure out how to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Focus on financial aid opportunities.
The downtime after applications have been sent is a great time to seek out extra money for school.
Keep an eye out for important scholarship and financial aid information that might come in the mail or to your email address. Check with your counselor to see if there are any opportunities you should be aware of or what else you could be eligible for.
- Ask colleges about their financial aid application deadlines and scholarships you may qualify for.
- Understand the different types of financial aid: grants, scholarships, and loans and how you can apply for each
- Learn more about the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship for Idaho high school students who plan to attend one of Idaho’s public institutions.
- Take a look at scholarships available to students entering technical or professional programs.
- Use the College Board’s scholarship search to explore aid opportunities outside of Idaho
- Consider enrolling in programs that help you earn college credit while you are in high school, like Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment. This can save money later.
Check in with your counselor.
Stay on track and prioritize your goals.
Now is the time to let your counselor know what you are planning to do after high school. Counselors can help connect you with the right resources and advise you on the application process. By doing just a bit of preparation before going into these conversations, you can ensure that you get the most out of their time.
- Reference this guide to stay on task:
- Ask about careers that are commonly available in your area, learn about major employers, and get your counselor’s thoughts on how you might start a job search.
Your grades and extracurricular activities still matter this year.
Employers, colleges, and training schools will look at what you accomplished your senior year. Stay focused on your classwork and maintain a commitment to your extracurricular activities.
- If you haven’t done so, make a list of all your school and community service activities along with high school classes and awards. This list will help when it’s time to start filling out applications.
- Consider finding an internship in a field that interests you so you get an idea of what it’s like to work in that environment.
- Check out this article about the importance of extracurricular activities.
- Keep studying!
Organize your senior year calendar.
No matter what you plan to do after high school, you’ll probably be filling out lots of forms this year, so it’s important to know which form is due when.
Make a tracker showing the application deadlines for apprenticeship programs, college or training program admissions, or military service. You can also keep a list of jobs you’ve applied for, so you can keep track of when it might be appropriate to follow up with employers. If you plan to go on to further schooling, be sure to include the deadlines for financial aid, and scholarships. Make sure to use this sheet to keep track of when you submit each form and confirm with your counselor that transcripts, test scores, and recommendations have all been submitted.
Visit schools this fall.
If you haven’t yet, plan a campus or professional facilities visit. The more the merrier.
Now is a great time to look at the institutions on your list because classes are in session and you are better able to meet and talk with students and instructors. You may even be able to sit in on a class or two. Call ahead to schedule tours, appointments, and even an overnight visit.
- Use the Next Steps Idaho Colleges Directory to find contact information for state schools and start planning your visit.
- If you can’t visit in-person, look for a virtual tour on the school’s website – many show campus facilities like classrooms, housing, and recreational areas.
- Attend as many college and career fairs and financial aid workshops as possible.
- Ask your counselor if any colleges will be hosting information sessions at your school.
- Take along our list of things to think about while you’re on a campus visit and take notes so you can remember the things you liked, and those you didn’t like.
Finalize your college or training programs list.
It’s time to decide where you’re going to apply!
Use the information you’ve gathered from visits, interviews, and your own research to decide which schools and programs you will apply to. It’s okay to apply to schools that you think will be more difficult to get into. But it’s also important to put a few safety options (where you’re pretty sure you’ll get in) on your list.
- Compare Idaho colleges and universities.
- Look for training options at schools other than colleges and universities.
- Search for open apprenticeships and connect with community colleges for more workforce training opportunities.
- Talk to counselors, teachers, and your family about your choices.
Ask for letters of recommendation.
Connect with teachers and counselors early this fall and let them know you’d like a letter of recommendation for school or work.
Think about who knows you best: your accomplishments, the challenges you’ve faced, your unique strengths, and personality traits. Decide whom you’re going to ask and give them plenty of notice. The most thoughtful and personal letters are those that are not rushed.
- Check out this article about how to get a great letter of recommendation.
- Schedule appointments with each letter writer to discuss your goals and ambitions so they’ll be more prepared to write about you.
- Remind them of your accomplishments, your hobbies or extracurricular activities, and any obstacles you’ve overcome. Provide writers with a copy of your high school resume and brag sheet so they have a quick point of reference.
- Give letter of recommendation forms (if required) to those you have chosen, along with stamped, addressed envelopes so they can send them directly to the colleges or employers. Don’t forget to call out the application deadline for each.
Take the SAT or ACT again if you need to.
It’s common for students to take these tests more than once.
You may need a higher score to meet admission requirements or to be eligible for certain scholarships. Or you may be taking the test for the first time if you did not take it last year. Try to get the highest score possible to maximize admissions and scholarship opportunities.
Make sure your family is prepared for the financial aid process.
Your family will need to help you fill out the forms and provide critical information required to submit financial aid applications.
You will need your parent’s tax information from the previous year to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Collect and review your financial aid information.
- Get a three-ring binder to organize all the paperwork so you have original documents together and can make copies when needed (seriously).
- Attend financial aid workshops with your parents or adults who are helping you complete your applications.
Tackle the FAFSA.
The first step to getting grants or loans from the federal government, state government, or institution is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.
This process takes some time and effort and is best started in the fall, as some Idaho schools have priority deadlines as early as December. Be ready to spend a couple of hours gathering the documents you need and filling out the form completely. The time spent will be worth it.
- Create your FSA ID. Each student, and one parent of each dependent student, will need an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA process on fafsa.gov.
- Get an overview of the FAFSA here.
- Download the worksheet and guide for submitting your FAFSA online here.
- Complete and submit the FAFSA online. You can submit the form anytime after starting this October for the following fall semester. The deadline for scholarship applications from the state of Idaho is March 1 and some colleges require earlier submission.
- Check your email and submit all required follow-up documentation. Your counselor can help you check to make sure you have completed all the steps.
- Wait for your financial aid determination letter and subsequent offer letters from each college you’ve applied to before making any decisions.
Career Readiness Resources
You have made it to your last year of high school. Congratulations! You’ve used this High School Learning Plan, to get you where you are: on-track to graduate. Before you leave high school to pursue a career, a certificate program, or college, there are a few things you should start wrapping up in order to be successful after graduation.