August Tips

  • Learn about college fairs and events in your area.  Visit and Keep your grades up.  Colleges look at your overall GPA through all four years of high school. 
  • Review your college savings plan; start saving money if you haven’t already done so. 
  • Learn about careers that interest you with an assessment at or career quizzes your school counselor sends you.
  • Talk to your parents and your school counselor about careers and colleges that interest you. 
  • Prepare for college and career with the ICAN Tip of the Week; sign up at

September Tips

October Tips

  • Attend any college fairs that interest you and talk to representatives.
  • Find information about Iowa colleges at Request information from colleges that interest you.
  • Visit with your school counselor to discuss ways to increase your chances of being admitted to the college of your dreams. 
  • If interested, research military education benefits and trade school options.

November Tips

  • Review brochures and catalogs from colleges that interest you.  Make a list of 5 to 10 colleges that fit your requirements, including careers.
  • Start planning to take the SAT ® or ACT® exams, if required.  Familiarize yourself with registration deadlines and test dates.  Check colleges’ entrance requirements to see which test(s) you need to take.  Take advantage of free online test preparation resources such as practice exams and study guides. Request a test fee waiver from your school counselor if you think your family is eligible.

December Tips

  • Research scholarships.  Keep an ongoing file of scholarship and financial aid information (such as criteria, amounts, contact persons and deadlines). Check out for free scholarship searches. Avoid scholarship searches that charge fees. 
  • Meet with college representatives through your school (virtually) and keep looking at colleges online.
  • Register now if you’re planning to take the January SAT® or February ACT®.  
  • Visit for test prep tools and resources.Begin to research scholarships. Learn about selection criteria and what’s required to apply. Find a list of scholarship searches.
  • Consider volunteering during your holiday break. Check out the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service for a list of options at Be sure to log your volunteer work in your activities resume and let the school know about completed community service hours.

January Tips

  • Build a list of colleges to consider. Use online college match tools such as or to find the best fit and compare financial aid estimates. Schedule visits to the colleges that fit your profile.
  • Happy New Year! Start it off right by scheduling campus visits (or virtual visits) to the top three to five colleges on your list.
  • Register now to take the March SAT® in need be.  Pick up a study guide or review online resources. 
  • Get involved. Colleges seek well-rounded students who not only get good grades, but who are also involved in school activities or community organizations.

February Tips

  • Determine a college budget based on salary expectations for your chosen career or industry. Visit to learn about starting salaries and begin your budget planning with ICAN.
  • Make sure you enroll in senior classes that fulfill the credits you need for college (including meeting NCAA requirements for athletes) and that help you prepare skills for your future career. 
  • Put together a resume listing your activities, volunteer experiences, academic achievements and employment. 
  • Register now if you plan to take the April ACT®. 
  • Talk to your school counselor about DMACC online credit courses and career academies. 

March Tips

  • Schedule remaining college visits. 
  • Find out about scholarships offered by your place of worship, civic, and business groups in career fields that interest you.  Continue your search.
  • If you plan to take the May SAT® register now. 
  • Check out your Return on Investment, visit

April Tips

  • When visiting colleges take notes to help you determine your likes and dislikes, and highlight what is most important to you. Download the Campus Visits worksheet for questions to ask and departments. 
  • Once you visit, compare your impressions of each college and rank them according to preference. 
  • Register now for the June ACT® or SAT®.
  • Visit Raise.Me and update your profile to see what scholarship dollars you could earn for your college planning activities and daily classes.
  • Take notes and compare your thoughts on each college after your visit. For help with this, use the College Checklist chart. (PDF)
  • Have questions?See your school counselor or Schedule an appointment with ICAN – All of ICAN’s services are offered at no cost to you! 

May Tips

  • Narrow your college choices to five or fewer and highlight the important features at each.  Make a second visit if necessary.
  • Find a summer job related to your career interest or do community service. 
  • Polish your resume; if required, assemble writing samples, a portfolio, or audition video. 

June Tips

  • Schedule campus visits for colleges you haven’t seen yet.
  • Save your summer earnings to pay for college. 
  • Serve your community — grades aren’t the only thing colleges evaluate. 
  • Prospective student athletes:  Ask Mrs. Daft to send an official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center.

July Tips

  • Get ready for your senior year! Start thinking about how to manage your time. Remember that you should focus on keeping your grades up, filling out applications and selecting a college despite the distractions. 
  • Think about which teachers, employers or other adults you’ll ask to write letters of recommendation. Ask for letters at least two weeks before you need them. Plan to ask at the very beginning of the school year.
  • Obtain and review college admission applications.
  • Decided whether to retake college entrance exams like the ACT/SAT for a better score.
  • See the Senior Tips page in the College and Career section of CM’s high school counseling page.