Year-by-Year College Plan

Here we’ve summarized the college preparation process for all Northridge students. Freshman year, the process starts with the College Planning Workshop for students and their families. Jump to: Sophomore Year, Junior Year, Senior Year

Freshman Year

Welcome to High School!

Students should be well-prepared academically for the beginning of the school year -- including having thought about any clubs, activities, or sports they’d like to participate in in High School. At the College Planning Workshop, students should get to know Mr. Barder, our college counselor, and plan out the next few years so as to maximize their college choice options by senior year.

Refine Study Skills

In the winter, students should focus on their Study Skills. After a couple months of High School, they should also have a grasp of some of their academic strengths and weaknesses.

Set Some Challenging Goals

Students should focus on setting academic and leadership goals for themselves. What sport can they be very good at? Or what clubs might they like to be a leader in? Does his social media presence reflect the ideals he wants to set for himself? Planning for Sophomore year begins now!

Use Downtime Well

Students should take advantage of the downtime to volunteer, get a job, or practice a sport. There are two important lists to keep: 1) a reading list, and 2) a list of accomplishments (both academic and extracurricular, which should be updated each year). The latter will be particularly useful for filling out college applications Senior year!

Sophomore Year

Seek Leadership Roles

Using the experiences students gained Freshman year and over the Summer, students should actively seek to be leaders in their favorite clubs and sports. Sophomores should also take the PSAT at this time, noting that to stand out in many admissions offices, students should aim for a combination of challenging coursework and quality experience in extracurriculars!

ACT or SAT Gameplan

In October, students will have taken the PSAT. Our college counsellor will then visit with the class to review PSAT results and discuss tactics for progressing in areas where they will be evaluated by colleges. They should reflect on how to get their desired score, and make a study plan for the ACT or SAT.

Make Summer Plans

As a rising junior it’s important
to start building your resume for college
Applications. Many internships and job opportunities hire students in the Spring, so students need to be prepared. The Spring may also a good time for students to seek out more responsibility in their extracurriculars. In addition, we provide spring semester sophomores with a Practice ACT and Practice SAT as well as a follow-up workshop to understand results & identify a test prep strategy moving forward.

Prepare for the SAT or ACT

Use the Summer to prepare for either the SAT or ACT by self-study, or taking a test prep course. It can be helpful for students to start thinking about their college preferences: what geographic, academic, or size preferences do they have? Why?

Junior Year

Meet Admissions Officers

For College Admissions, this is a High Schooler’s most important year. Students should have an ACT / SAT plan, and be ready to take the PSAT again. Students should continue seeking leadership challenges. Because the Fall is when many college admissions officers visit Northridge, students should attend these presentations in College Prep class and continue to identify priorities in their search.

Meet With Mr. Barder

A Junior’s GPA can have a big impact on college acceptances mainly because colleges recognize that the work becomes more challenging. The study skills acquired over the years will be playing a critical role. Students should also visit with Mr. Barder in January to review score reports and to review progress in other areas where a student will be evaluated by colleges

Take The SAT or ACT

As they begin planning college visits and studying for and taking the APs and SAT subject exams, students should choose a demanding senior course load to maximize college acceptances. Many students may also choose to take the ACT or SAT during the Spring semester.

Take the ACT or SAT Again

Summer is a great time to work on fine-tuning a student's ACT / SAT scores -- especially if the student plans on Early Action or Early Decision. Students should also start brainstorming their application essays.

Senior Year

Starting Applications

Well-prepared students should take advantage of the Fall to plan longer-lead parts of their applications: letters of recommendation, their ideal ACT / SAT score, and essay writing. Students should also fill out the FAFSA form.

Review a Few Practicalities

Meeting with Mr. Barder to finalize a application submission timeline could be helpful -- especially if students weren't sure about applying Early Action / Decision. Students should discuss the plans for financing college as well. 

Get a 2nd Opinion

Students should consider their college options from all angles, and talk through your thoughts with people you trust. In the Spring, students should review their financial aid offers, bounce ideas off people they trust, and weigh the pros and cons of each school they're considering.

Use Downtime Well

Start planning for the Fall, and celebrate with friends and family!

Recent College Acceptances (2016-20)

Scroll to Top