College Planning Timeline

Freshman Year

  • Begin taking the strong academic foundation courses and challenging yourself in academics. Remember, colleges see your freshman year grades!
  • Start thinking about what subjects you like, what outside activities you enjoy, and what academic areas you want to explore more in depth.
  • Get involved in clubs and organizations that you have an interest in and stay committed and focused on these activities. These activities may include community service projects, school service projects, athletics, music groups, debate, or any other of the clubs offered here at school or in the community. Don’t be hesitant to try new things (drama, sports, choir, etc.)!
  • Get to know your teachers and your advisor.
  • Develop good study skills and organizational habits.

Sophomore Year

  • Get to know your teachers.
  • Focus on your life as a student, not on the college search process.
  • Continue working on good study skills and organizational habits.
  • Continue to take the challenging courses in your areas of strength.
  • Attend the Charleston area College Fair in the fall.
  • Take the PSAT in October—date will be announced.
  • Think about which activities, subjects, sports you find most fulfilling. Stay committed and focused on these activities.
  • Take sample college tours on the Web. Use college search tools such as Big Future,,, or the variety of other search tools available to begin the search process.
  • During the summer after your sophomore year, begin to visit some schools that you might find interesting.
  • Consider your options for summer work or academic programs. Review the Summer Opportunities page on our website for information about specific programs.

Junior Year

  • Try to learn about distinctive features of many colleges.
  • Talk with your parents about college planning.
  • Continue to challenge yourself in the classroom. Study hard to maintain good grades or improve your grades.
  • Continue working on good study skills and organizational habits.
  • Visit colleges during breaks and summer vacation.
Fall (September, October, November, December)
  • Visit with college representatives who visit Porter-Gaud. Check the bulletin board in the upper school, the College Counseling calendar on the PG website, or outside the College Counseling Office.
  • Attend the Charleston area College Fair.
  • Take the PSAT in October. Take the practice tests provided in the PSAT bulletin mailed to your home. This test is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
Winter/Spring (January - May)
  • Attend the programs at school designed to get you started in the process.
  • Make an appointment to meet with your counselor.
  • Register for spring administrations of SAT I, ACT, and/or SAT II: Subject Tests.
  • Consider visiting colleges during winter and spring break.
  • Involve yourself intelligently in extracurricular activities, emphasizing quality, depth of commitment, and initiative in activities that are important to you.
Summer (June, July, August)
  • Expand your horizons and gain experience. Admission committees at highly selective institutions increasingly believe that how you use vacations reveals your priorities and resourcefulness; what you do shows people what you value.
  • Visit colleges, taking campus tours and attending information sessions wherever you can.
  • Gather catalogs and application materials, keeping track of what materials you have or need.
  • Talk about college with Porter-Gaud graduates who are at home for vacation, but keep an open mind. Your experience at a college may be much different from theirs.
  • Gather ideas for college-application essays by keeping a journal about significant books, issues, experiences, and thoughts. Go online to a college’s web site to get an idea of what essay questions might be asked.
  • Develop an informal resume of what you are involved in including school activities and outside activities that might include scouting, church, work, etc.

Senior Year

  • Narrow your list of colleges, making an appointment with your counselor to discuss application choices and strategy.
  • Meet with college representatives at Porter-Gaud to ask questions and collect materials. Present yourself well by learning basic information before talking to college representatives.
  • Meet with your counselor as needed to refine your list and to continue helping him/her get to know you. Initiate the meetings rather than waiting for him/her to contact you.
  • Register for SAT I, ACT, and/or SAT II: Subject Tests. Sign up to take the specific tests required or recommended by each of your college choices.
  • Choose teachers who know you well to write recommendations. Ask them in September to write on your behalf and give them required forms and a Porter-Gaud recommendation envelope in a packet so that all recommendations can be processed and mailed at the same time.
  • Use Fall Break or Thanksgiving Break to make college trips. Make appointments well in advance.
  • Fill out and submit the CSS Profile, FAFSA, or other needed financial aid forms as soon as possible after they become available October 1.

  • Meet deadlines for an Early Decision or an Early Action application.
  • Request that the College Board or ACT officially notify each college to which you apply of SAT I, SAT II: Subject Test, or ACT scores. Porter-Gaud cannot officially report these for you.
  • Confirm with your counselor that your final college list is balanced and fills your requirements.
  • Do your best on semester examinations.
  • Inform your counselor if a college notifies you of a decision or a request for additional material. Since colleges are often swamped with mail, a form believed missing may be there but not yet be opened, filed, or logged on a computer..
  • If you decide not to attend a college that accepts you, promptly notify the college so that it can offer admission to another candidate.
  • By April 15, you should have heard from all colleges to which you applied. Use the following two weeks to make a final decision. Notify in writing all colleges that admitted you whether you will enroll.
  • Notify a college immediately if you wish to remain on its wait list. Make sure that your counselor knows of and has a chance to talk with you about your wait-list status. Protect yourself by enrolling somewhere else if you decide to stay on a wait list.
  • A non-refundable enrollment deposit is due at the college of your choice on or before May 1. If you miss the deadline, an offer of admission may be withdrawn. Do not “double deposit” (commit to enroll at two institutions); this unethical practice damages your reputation and Porter-Gaud’s and may result in your being denied admission at both institutions.
  • If a wait-list school that you want to attend accepts you, send it a deposit and withdraw immediately from the school where you first deposited.
  • Tell your counselor in writing where you decide to go to college so that a copy of your final transcript can be sent.
  • Show your counselor a copy of any scholarship or merit-based award that you are offered by the college you decide to attend.

College Counseling Department


CollegeBoard/ACT Code

Director of College Counseling

Assistant Director of College Counseling

Administrative Assistant to College Counseling


College Board (SAT)
Common Application
Downloadable Forms

Father's Response Form

Mother's Response Form

Student College Planning Survey