The BH-BL counseling center provides the following timeline to
help both students and parents navigate through high school and
get prepared for college.
Please feel free to call us at (518) 399-9141, ext. 83320, if
you'd like more information or assistance.
Use the "More Information" tool bar (right) to skip directly
to a specific grade
Welcome to high school. Ninth grade is a time for
exploration, so it's important to do just that. Join clubs,
athletic teams and get involved in other school activities.
Volunteer! How else will you know what you're good at or what
you enjoy if you don't try new things?
It's also important to make sure you get off to a strong
start in all your courses. Students who have to repeat classes
close off their options and choices in coursework/internships,
etc., down the road.
November-December: Counselors meet with
freshmen in small groups to discuss adjustment to high school,
review graduation requirements, encourage school and community
involvement, and any concerns they may have.
March: Counselors will meet individually
with students to review academic program and select courses for
the next school year.
During your sophomore year, you'll want to be watching for
November: Parents can attend
the Financial Informational Seminar. Look for the date and time
in the newsletter, school calendar, and on the district's website.
January-March: Counselors meet with each
sophomore for his or her annual review. At this time, course
selections for 11th grade are finalized, academic standing is
reviewed and continued career exploration is encouraged. Parents
are not sent individual notifications about the sophomore
conference, but they're encouraged to call their son or
daughter's counselor in early November if they would like to
April: Counselors meet with students in
group settings to introduce the Naviance College and Career
Program. Students complete interest inventories, learn how
to navigate the career and college resources, and begin building
Your junior year will be a challenging one in terms of
academics. Most 11th-graders will take at least four key Regents
exams at the end of the year (English, math, science and social
studies). It's important to work hard and keep up in all your
courses since your junior year academic record will
impact—positively or negatively—your choice of colleges and
scholarship opportunities next year.
Some specific things
to be on the lookout for this year include:
September-October: Sign up for and take the
PSAT, a pretest for the SAT. Also, plan to meet with college
representatives visiting BH-BL this fall. (Listen to the morning
announcements for details, visit the website or ask your
counselor.) Be sure to sign up for the two
college fairs offered at the high school. Over 100
colleges will be represented.
November: Parents should
attend the Financial Informational Seminar if they didn't attend
last year. Look for the date and time in the newsletter,
and on the district's website.
January-March: Counselors will meet with every junior to complete
a junior conference. Discussions
focus on academic progress, PSAT scores, course selections for
grade 12, the college selection process and career plans.
Parents are notified through their child as to conference date
and time, and are highly encouraged to attend.
March: Parents and students should attend
the College Information Night at the High School where they will
hear presenters speak on topics including: Private 4 year
college admissions, SUNY options, financial aid, and Naviance
March-April: During this time, students
should register for the SAT, ACT and/or SAT II exams that are
given in May and June. Register online at the College Board
website and/or ACT.org. Consider taking an SAT prep course.
is a free program offered through Naviance for ACT and SAT
May-June: Take the SAT, ACT and/or SAT II
exams. The SAT or ACT are required for admission to many 4 year
colleges. Exams should be taken during the spring of the
student's junior year.
June-August: The summer before your senior
year is a good time to visit colleges. Students should call for an
appointment first to avoid visiting a campus when it may be
closed or between semesters. An interview with an admissions
officer is advisable. Check out our tips for visiting colleges and
a list of
sample questions you can ask.
Summer is also a great time to volunteer in your community or
attend a summer program. See the summer board in the
counseling center for opportunities.
Congratulations, you're almost there! Your senior year will
be an exciting one which, for most students, will be focused on
making the smooth transition to college. (In recent years,
roughly 90 percent of BH-BL graduates plan to move straight on
to either a two- or four-year college.)
There's a LOT to do this year (parents and students alike),
so take a deep breath and try not to get overwhelmed. Here's a
step-by-step checklist to keep you on track:
- Take (or re-take) the SAT and/or ACT College
Entrance Exams. The SAT is required by most
colleges and most students take this extremely important
exam as juniors. Many re-take it as seniors to try to
improve their scores. Register for the October SAT by the
September registration deadline. You must register
www.collegeboard.org. If one or more of the colleges
you are applying to require the ACT exam, register for the
October test by the September registration deadline
You must also register online for the ACT exam. Remember: you must take tests like the SAT
and ACT at least six weeks before scores can be submitted to
SAT/ACT Exam dates.
- Senior Conference. Each senior meets
individually with his or her counselor to review graduation
and course requirements and post-graduation plans. A college
application timeline is formalized at this meeting.
- Meet with college representatives visiting
BH-BL. The counseling center can tell you which
schools will be visiting our district and when. Ask for a
pass to get out of class and ask the college representatives
lots of questions! (Keep in mind you are responsible for
making up any missed class work.)
- Visit some colleges. If you haven't
done this already, try to schedule some college visits this
fall. Interview some students, faculty and staff if
possible. Check out our tips for visiting colleges and list
of sample questions you can ask.
- Start your college application.
Most schools use some form of online application, with many
Common Application. Most college applications require an
essay. Get the topic and start writing it
early. Try to make your essay compelling and be sure it
reflects your best effort. Give it lots of thought, edit,
spell-check and ask for feedback from an English teacher,
counselor, parent, etc.
- Finalize your college choices. Decide
on a minimum of three potential colleges. You should be
thinking about some "reach" schools, "comfortable" choices
and a "safety" school. This pertains to academic, as well as
- Make a list; check it twice. Make a
checklist for each college you are going to apply to.
Include all the pieces of information that need to be
assembled (i.e., forms, recommendations, essays,
transcripts, etc.) and all deadlines (including when the
application must be postmarked or submitted by). This will help you break
the application job into smaller parts. It will also help
you stay organized, calm and on track.
- Request recommendation letters. NOW is
the time to ask teachers (from your junior and senior
years), counselors, coaches and employers for
letters of recommendation related to your activities and
employment. These will be required for college applications.
Ask for the recommendations in person. Be sure to write a
thank-you note to each person who provides a recommendation.
- Try to finish your college applications by the
end of October. Even though many colleges have
rolling admissions, the earlier you apply, the better your
chances of getting accepted. Even if the college's official
deadline is March 1, it's better to get your application in
to your counselor by November 1. You'll be ahead of the game
and able to shift your focus to financial aid applications,
scholarships and simply enjoying your senior year. Unless
you thrive on stress, there is no good reason to wait until
the last minute to begin working on college applications.
- Start checking for scholarship applications.
Plan to visit the counseling center at least once a week to
check the scholarship board for announcements and
application information. New scholarships come in at all
different times during the year and they aren't just for the
"straight A" students. Don't miss the boat; check in weekly.
- Apply for your FAFSA pin number and start
gathering financial information. Virtually all colleges
require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
form to apply for financial aid. Visit FAFSA on the Web at
www.fafsa.ed.gov and sign up for your personal pin number if
you're going to submit the form online. This is also a good
time to print out the worksheets for filling out the FAFSA
so you'll know what's involved and can begin gathering the
financial records. (The actual form cannot be submitted
until after January 1, but most colleges want it by February
1, so preparing now will reduce stress later.)
- Find out if colleges require the CSS/Financial Aid
Profile. Some colleges (mostly private schools) require this
special form, which is essentially a supplement to the
FAFSA. The College Board website has a list of the schools
that require it, but it's always better to check with the
- Call the financial aid offices to find out if they
require any other special financial forms of their own. This
is most common at private colleges. If they require
specialized forms, ask them to mail them to you now.
- Find out the deadlines for all financial aid forms now.
- College applications should be close to
completion. You will need to see your
counselor to request that an official high school transcript
be sent to each college you are applying to.
Please be sure to keep your Naviance account up to date as
your counselor uses this site to
submit your documents.
- Request official SAT/ACT scores from testing
agency. You are responsible for having your
scores sent to the colleges you are applying to. The
scores will NOT be included on your transcript.
- Attend special programs, such as college fairs and the
College Financial Informational Seminar for parents.
- Continue checking for scholarship applications every
week in the counseling center.
- If you're still applying to colleges, get those
applications filled out and turned in to your counselor as
soon as possible, allowing at least three weeks for
processing. Keep in mind counselors are often on vacation
over the Christmas recess; not reviewing college
applications. January 1 deadlines should be turned in to
your counselor by December 1 at the latest.
- Parents: Save year-end payroll stubs
that show your earnings for the year. You may need it for
financial aid eligibility reviews by schools and to estimate
your taxes on the FAFSA form.
- Review the list above. Are you on schedule? Have you
- January is financial aid month. Look for notification of
financial aid seminars and other similar programs throughout
the Capital District.
- Get your income tax returns prepared early. Colleges may
request them and you will need tax information to complete
the FAFSA. Note: since some schools require the FAFSA by
February 1, and many employers don't give out W-2 forms
until late in January, you can opt to estimate your taxes
using the prior year's tax returns and this year's pay
stubs. (See the FAFSA Web site for more details.)
- Complete the FAFSA form. Submit the form as soon as
possible after January 1. Some schools require it as early
as February 1, but be sure to submit it no later than March
1. You improve your chances of receiving financial aid if
you submit your forms early. Colleges are handing out aid as
the applications come in and there IS a limit to how much
they have to give. Get your application in late and all
their available money may, quite simply, be gone.
- Remember to keep copies of all financial aid forms you
- Apply for outside funding and scholarships. Keep
checking for scholarship applications in the counseling
every week and explore other sources. For example, parents
might belong to organizations or work in businesses that
award scholarships. Ask around. Visit
internet's largest free scholarship search. Look around.
- Make sure your FAFSA is complete and
has been submitted.
- Check on mid-year transcripts. Did you tell your
counselor which colleges want mid-year transcripts? Stop in
the counseling center and confirm that they were sent.
- Watch for your Student Aid Report (SAR). This is
one-page summary of the FAFSA information you submitted. It
is sent to you to confirm the accuracy of all data one last
time before it is forwarded to your colleges. Occasionally
the SAR will note that information is missing or incomplete.
In all cases, follow directions on the SAR and return it as
quickly as possible. If you have not received your Student
Aid Report within five weeks after sending in your FAFSA,
contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (301)
722- 9200. The report arrives by mail or by email if you
filed the FAFSA electronically.
- Rank your college choices while you wait for responses
to your applications.
- Watch the mail or email for college
typically start arriving in April.
- Compare financial aid packages from each college.
- Make a decision which college you will attend and send
them your formal acceptance and deposit.
May and beyond:
- Notify the other schools. Be sure to call the admissions
and financial aid office of the colleges that you will not
- Watch for important deadlines at your college of choice.
These may include housing deposits, financial aid,
orientation sessions, and more.
- Register as a BH-BL alumnus. Remember to register in the
BH-BL alumni database. This site will help you keep in touch
with classmates in the years ahead and keep you informed
about any reunions that your class may be planning.
- Have a fun summer and good luck in college!
[Return to counseling center homepage]