College and Career Planning Guide

What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a common question to children and one that some adults still cannot answer. Although, the sooner the planning starts, the more exploration of different occupations can happen. Below is a recommended timeline per grade.

8th grade:

-Consider high school course options: honors, AP, AVID, dual language, early college, or community college dual-enrollment.

-Learn about career interests with an interest inventory or career assessment. is a great site to explore occupation options.

-Consider an NC 529 savings plan for college.


-Check college entrance requirements and focus on course and GPA requirements for college admission. (Yes, it starts this early!!)

-Consider summer enrichment opportunities, such as camps, work, classes, or volunteering.

-Participate in extracurricular activities.

-Begin to build your high school resume.

-Start researching scholarships. This can never start too early!

-Build an excel spreadsheet to stay organized.


-Research college options.

-Visit college campuses virtually or in person.

-Learn about and prepare for college entrance exams.

-Explore options for earning college credit in high school.

-Apply for scholarships! (check the Student Services tab on your school’s website and


-Create your FSA ID for the FAFSA. Do not lose this information!

-Register for and take college entrance exams. Take the PSAT if you want to participate in the National Merit Scholarship program.

-Write a personal statement and respond to college application essay prompts. MoonPrep is a great resource to help write a compelling personal statement and to prepare for your college essays.

-Narrow down college list.

-Identify teacher(s) for letters of recommendation.

-Create your account. You can use it to apply to most NC colleges and to send your official transcripts for free.

-Apply for scholarships!


-Know your DEADLINES!

-Schedule an appointment with your school counselor or College Advising Corps adviser (in person or virtual.)

-Apply for college admission (at for NC schools or at When you fill out the Common Application, you only have 150 characters to describe your activities. You can create a resume to supplement your application. This will help set you apart from the other applicants by providing more context to your achievements.

-Create your resume. You can also provide this to whomever you ask for your letters of recommendation to remind them of your accomplishments.

-Complete the FAFSA and the residency process. This should be done soon after it is published in October.

-Participate in the CFNC’s Countdown to College and free college application weeks (in October.)

-Send AP and SAT/ACT scores to colleges (Note: At this time, most universities are waiving standardized testing requirements for admission.)

-Send transcripts when they become available.

-Apply for scholarships!

-Don’t forget to enjoy these moments!

During this time, when most of our normal activities are cancelled, we can still help our children be productive in exploring their future careers and planning for college. There is no better time than the present to plan for your future!