The Berkeley Carroll School

Four Year Timeline

College Preparation in 9th and 10th Grades

Some students and parents may be wondering if there is anything they should be doing to prepare in 9th and 10th grades for the college admission process. Given the fever pitch of the college admission process in New York and in the national media in general, it’s easy to feel like you’re already behind.

You are not. The reality is this: for this process to go well, it has to correspond to adolescent development and certain fixed benchmarks along the high school trajectory. Experience clearly shows that starting too early results in a process focused on the wrong ideas: “how do I get in?” becomes * more important than “what am I looking for?” because this last question cannot yet be adequately tackled, regardless of how smart, mature, or high-achieving a student might be.

At Berkeley Carroll, we feel strongly that students are best prepared for the college process if they concentrate on learning and their high school education first. Here is some general advice that isn’t really about getting into college, but if followed, will pay its dividends a few years hence.

  • Students should start now to cultivate the study habits and organizational skills that will help them be successful throughout high school. If you are struggling in a class, seek out help from your teachers. If you are finding inspiration in a subject, let your teachers know! One of Berkeley Carroll’s strengths is its faculty, so get to know your teachers, advisor and grade dean. They can help you understand how you learn best and how to make the most of your academic potential.
  • Ninth and 10th graders should look for ways to get involved in the Berkeley Carroll community. Make the most of the extraordinary opportunities available to you here! Now is the time to get involved; explore and find something you love to do.

There is a pervasive myth that colleges seek to fill their freshman classes with well-rounded students when, in reality, they want to admit students who together will make up a well-rounded class. That means colleges are most interested in students who have shown commitment to their activities and demonstrate deep involvement in a few rather than sporadic participation in many.

If you invest in activities that you enjoy, you will look forward to school each day and your ability to succeed, even excel, in academics and extracurricular life will come more naturally.

  • Students are introduced to college admission tests – the ACT and SAT – in the spring of 10th grade. After several sessions on the differences between the two tests, and strategies for doing well on them, sophomores take a diagnostic to help them decide which of the two tests to focus on. Beginning in 2016, sophomores may also take the PSAT (the Preliminary SAT) for the first time in February. As a 9th or 10th grader, you should not do any formal preparation for the PSAT; however, your future test scores will be higher if you start cultivating good habits now. Pick up a book that isn’t an assignment from time to time. Reading is absolutely the best preparation for the critical reading section of the SAT.
  • When summer comes, it is important to take time to relax and recharge your batteries, but you should do something productive, too. Get a job, volunteer, attend an academic program, go to camp or travel. You want to keep your brain nimble and have some new experiences that will teach you something about yourself. Marathon TV sessions and simply ‘hanging out’ won’t provide much by way of enlightenment or dazzling college interview responses down the road.

The College Process in 11th and 12th Grades

Since students and parents begin to receive detailed information about the college process beginning in 11th grade, what follows is only a skeletal sample timeline for the last two years of high school.



  • Students and parents invited to a college process orientation meeting
  • Students take the PSAT


  • Individual family meetings with college counselor to begin process


  • Take SAT or ACT
  • First college visits over Spring Break
  • Informal check-ins with college counselor following campus visits
  • Register to take June Subject Test, if applicable


  • Brooklyn/Staten Island College Fair
  • Take SAT


  • Take Subject Tests, if applicable
  • Take ACT


  • College visits, first interviews



  • Individual family meetings with college counselor
  • Ask teachers to write letters of recommendations
  • Meet with college representatives visiting Berkeley Carroll
  • Begin working on essays
  • Retake SAT or ACT if necessary


  • Take Subject Tests, if necessary
  • Most Early Decision/Early Action applications due
  • Submit final list of colleges to College Office
  • Arrange for official SAT or ACT scores to be sent to colleges


  • Submit applications


  • January 1 deadline for many college applications
  • Make sure financial aid forms meet deadlines

April 1

  • Notification of admission status

May 1

  • National Reply Date: put down a deposit at the college you will attend!
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