Header Graphic Header Graphic
Financial Aid Calendard: What To Do In 9th Grade

9th Grade Checklist

It's never too early to start your search for the right college and the financial aid you'll need. During your freshman year, use this checklist to help you begin your search.


  • Find out what courses your should take in high school to prepare and meet the entrance requirements for college.
    Check with your high school counselor. Also, look at some of the college catalogs that are in your school or local library, to get an idea of typical requirements.


  • Start exploring possible career directions.
    Think about what areas might match your interests and abilities. Talk to your high school counselor about materials or tests that help you assess you aptitudes or skills. Check out the career information resources in your school or local public library.

    In particular, take a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This guide is packed with current and accurate information about education and training requirements, employment outlook, places of employment, earnings, and working conditions for over 200 occupations. These descriptions will give you a good idea about what you might have to do to prepare for the career of your dreams.


  • Start talking to your parents about college.
    This is the time to begin talking to your parents about a number of college-related issues:

      What kind of college do you want to attend: in or out of state? public or private? two year or four year?

      What are some of the careers you are considering?

      How are you and your family are going to finance your college education?

    • If you don't have particular colleges in mind, you might want to check out these resources (or ones like them):
      The College Handbook.
      This is the only guide to all 3,600 four-year and two-year colleges and universities in the United States. It is the flagship of the College Board, a national nonprofit membership association known for its authoritative line of annual directories. It is the ideal reference for students, parents, and professionals who need the most objective, accurate, and current information about accredited colleges. Entries detail admissions requirements, deadlines, acceptance rates, academic and extracurricular offerings, special facilities, contact information, and more. Plus, special tables show policies, facts, and outcomes for Early Deicision, Early Action, and Wait List applicants.
      Fiske Guide to Colleges.
      This annual guide has been an indispensable source of information for thousands of students, parents, and teachers for over 20 years. It provides both statistical academic information plus newsy descriptions of campus culture and lifestyle for more than 330 of the best colleges and universities. The author served for 17 years as the New York Times' education editor. As one of the reviewers on Amazon.com said: "one of it not the single best guide out there."

      • Start a list of all your activities.
        Begin and maintain a record of your activities at school and in the community. Keep in mind: colleges and financial aid sponsors often consider extracurricular activities when they make selection decisions

      • Be sure you have a social security number.
        If you don't know if you already have a social security number, or if you need to apply for a number, you can pick up an application at the post office, you can call (800) 772-1213, or you can get an application form on the web.


            • Start to learn about financial aid
              Talk to your high school counselor. Look through the financial aid resources in your high school and public library. Do an exploratory search for financial aid online (fill in the forms as if you are a high school senior); FastWeb is a helpful beginning point. And, get a targeted introductory text to read, so you can learn what you need to do before you need to do it.

              A good choice is Don't Miss Out: The Ambitious Student's Guide to Financial Aid. You'll find everything you need to know, there, about the financial aid process. With clear prose and irreverent humor, this guide cuts through the red tape and government jargon, explodes financial aid myths, and points out ways to increase the chances that you'll get your share of financial aid. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive, and reviewers on Amazon.com gave it 5 stars!

            • Find out about summer jobs.
              Even before you're done with school, you should start thinking about what you're going to do with your summer. If you're too young, or lack the opportunity to get an "official" job, look into volunteering. Or, you could use your summer to do something academic. But, don't let this opportunity go by to get some experience (and add to your resume!).
              To help you get started, take a look at the listings in Peterson's Summer Opportunities for Kids & Teenagers. More than 3,000 summer camps, arts programs, sports clinics, academic courses, travel tours, volunteer opportunities, and wilderness adventures are profiled here, with in-depth descriptions written by staff members at the programs themselves. Here's your guide to safe, fun, and enriching summer programs.