Planning Ahead

We’re looking for students who try new things, tackle big challenges and lend a hand to their communities–all while earning exceptional grades and exhibiting stellar behavior. Don’t worry, it’s totally achievable.

It’s never too early to start planning for a successful future.

Follow this year-by-year roadmap to help you prepare academically and financially for university.

9th Grade

9th Grade Look Ahead


Get some guidance

Meet with a school or community program counselor to discuss your higher education, career and personal goals for the future and write out a plan for academic and extracurricular success.

Select the right classes

Use this year to really identify your strengths and weaknesses in different subjects. Check out Khan Academy for subject-specific help.

Get active

Join school or community groups, clubs, or teams you're interested in.


Grades matter

Even in your freshman year, your academic performance is important. College may seem like a distant goal, but your grades from each year of high school will impact your overall GPA and class rank.

Financial Planning

Talk to your parents or guardians about paying for college. Click here to review our Financial Literacy Resources . Start or continue to add to a savings plan.


Keep track

Start documenting your academic, extracurricular and community service achievement and awards. Save this list and add to it as you progress through high school. This will be a big time-saver when completing college applications and creating a resume.

Dream big

Start a list of schools you’re interested in and request to be added to their mailing lists.

Get involved

Volunteer, get a job or sign up for an enrichment program during the summer. Click here to see UC San Diego Youth Camps and Enrichment Programs. If you aren't in San Diego, there may be similar opportunities near you.

Read and Write

Both skills are very important and require consistent practice, no matter your chosen field.

10th grade

10th grade Sharpening Your Skills


Practice testing

Gain confidence in test-taking and discover areas you need to improve upon by taking the PSAT 10 or ACT preparation.

Understand requirements

Take a look at the application requirements for the colleges and universities you're interested in. Write down your questions or concerns about meeting those requirements and share with your parents and counselors.

Reassess extracurriculars

Are you involved enough? Too much? Make sure your extracurricular activities support and grow your passions.


Get some guidance

Meet with your counselor to review goals and to make sure you are staying on track with your classes and test preparation. Make a test plan and calendar so you that you’re able to adequately prepare.

SAT | ACT | SAT Subject Tests | AP Exams

Stay focused

Your grades are very important. If you find yourself falling behind, be sure to ask for help now.

Financial planning

Check in with your parents or guardians to determine where your family is with financing options. Start researching scholarships and financial planning strategies.


Take SAT subject tests

It's best to take the subject tests right after you've the completed the recommended classes while the material is still fresh in your mind.

Explore colleges and universities

Take campus tours or sit in on a class. Book your UC San Diego visit here. Research on-campus summer programs and camps that universities often host for high school students. Click here to see UC San Diego Youth Camps and Enrichment Programs.

Read and write

Both skills are very important, no matter your chosen field. Find someone you trust to review your work and provide feedback.

Get a summer job

Add to your college savings and gain real-world experience to include on your college application and resume.

Keep track

Add to or create a list of your academic, extracurricular and community service achievement and awards. This will be a big time-saver when completing college applications and creating a resume.

11th Grade

11th Grade On Your Mark, Get Set...


Get some guidance

Review your GPA, test results and/or test plan and class rank with your counselor to make sure you’re still on track to meet your goals.

Take the PSAT

If you haven’t already, it’s important to take the PSAT now to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program.

Step up

Take on leadership roles in your extracurricular activities and maintain your commitment.

Meet NCAA requirements

If you want to play Division I or II sports in college, start the certification process. Be sure to check with your counselor to make sure you meet requirements. Interested in playing at UC San Diego? Submit a recruiting questionnaire for your sport here.


Get some guidance

Meet with your counselor to evaluate where you are academically. Are there courses or tests you should retake?

Financial planning

Check out our financial planning calculator to help you and your family plan for the future.

Review your college list

Weigh all of the factors that are most important to you and create a preliminary ranking of the schools on your list. Visiting a campus is the only way to give you a feel for what it's like to attend. Take campus tours or sit in on some classes. Book your UC San Diego visit here.


Challenge yourself

Plan a rigorous senior year course schedule to prepare for college.

Financial planning

Contact the Financial Aid offices of the universities you’re interested in for their planning advice. Click here to contact the UC San Diego Financial Aid & Scholarship Office. Check with your guidance counselor for local scholarships and search for national scholarships.

Keep track

Add to or create a list of your academic, extracurricular and community service achievement and awards. This will be a big time-saver when completing college applications and creating a resume.

Start working on your application essays

Give yourself plenty of time to plan, write, review and get feedback from trusted adults.

UC San Diego Summer opportunities

High school students are welcome to join UC San Diego in the summer. Enroll in a class or participate in summer programs, research opportunities, and more! Click here to learn more about UC San Diego Summer opportunities.

12th Grade

12th Grade It's Go Time


Complete the University of California application

The application opens August 1 and you can submit it November 1-30. Don’t wait until the last minute!

Finalize your college list

Attend college fairs near you, visit universities and attend their on-campus and online recruitment and application events.

Stay focused

While most universities look at your first three years of high school, your senior year performance is still important. Keeping your grades up and maintaining the activities you enjoy are a great way to help you gain admission into your top schools.

Take standardized tests

Take the SAT | ACT | SAT Subject Tests as required by the universities you’re applying to and request that your scores be sent to those schools.

Submit financial aid forms

The FAFSA and California Dream Act applications open for submission on October 1. File ASAP for the best possible funding.

Submit your college applications

Once you have completed your applications, be sure to review your information closely to make sure everything is accurate. Proofread your essays several times to catch any errors.

Submit scholarship applications

Check with your guidance counselor for local scholarships. Click here to search national scholarships.


Follow up on your application

Make sure you received an application confirmation receipt and have requested all test scores be sent to the schools to which you applied. UC San Diego emails all applicants in December to confirm that we received your application.

Wait patiently

As you wait for schools to read your application and make decisions, maintain your grades and extracurricular involvement. Continue your reading and writing. Both skills will be required in your first year of university.


Make an informed decision

UC San Diego releases admission decisions and financial aid packages mid-March for freshmen. Attend the admit days of the schools to which you were admitted. Talk with your parents and submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) by the national deadline, May 1.

Waitlist option

If you receive a waitlist decision from UC San Diego, you must opt-in to the waitlist. We will notify you if you are admitted at a later date.

Meet deadlines

Once you accept an admission offer, you will receive information about orientation sessions and housing contracts. You are required to send your transcripts by July 1 to maintain your admission. Be sure to meet all deadlines.

Celebrate and get ready for your future!

You and your parents should be very proud of your high school graduation and acceptance to college. Use the summer to spend time with your family and prepare for the next — and perhaps most exciting and transformational — stage of your life.

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Submit your University of California application.



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