Timeline by Grade


Your main focus freshman year should be your transition to high school.  You will be best served by concentrating on your academic course work, building relationships with your Advisor and teachers, and setting goals for who you want to be as a high school student. Pay close attention to your quarterly comments to gain insight about how you can improve your performance in your classes and take advantage of communicating with your teachers, both in and out of class for any necessary assistance.

As you look ahead towards the college process, build a 4-year plan for your curriculum.  Ask yourself what courses you hope to take in junior and senior year and what it will require to best prepare and be recommended for those courses.  Again, the single most important area to focus on for college is the present moment, your current classes and extracurricular endeavors.  Start to be the best version of yourself that you can imagine. Freshman year is a great time to focus on your SaL traits and to reflect on both your strengths and areas that you can improve! Know that when reviewing applications, colleges examine your transcript, starting with your freshman year. Use this year to create a solid foundation on which to build your academic story. It’s also a great time to start some community service!


As sophomore year unfolds, you will begin to become more familiar with the college process.

Standardized testing will appear on your radar as you may take a practice PSAT in the spring.  This is the first opportunity you may have to experience a taste of what standardized testing for college is all about.  It is important to remember that this practice PSAT is only seen by you and the College Counseling Office, not colleges! 

As you begin your spring semester, you will be paired with your College Counselor, who will work with you over the next two and a half years throughout your journey to college. While the D-E College Counseling Office is a team and you should feel comfortable asking any of us a question, your assigned College Counselor is your point person for all things college.

At key moments, your College Counselor will visit your Advisory to answer questions and provide general guidance. This is especially important as you consider many more course options for the coming year. This is an important time to look ahead to not only what classes you want to take junior year, but senior year as well. It’s important to keep this two-year trajectory in mind, and to consult with your College Counselor who can help you with these decisions.  

Time over spring break and summer offer the potential to visit some schools so that you can start to determine what kind of college experience you prefer. Consider schools that vary with regards to being in different environments such as urban, suburban and rural areas. Think about taking advantage of any family travel to broaden your exploration of different geographic areas as well! 

Sophomore year is also a great time to reflect on who you are as a member of a community, whether that is here at D-E, your hometown, other affiliated groups and even your family! Most colleges practice a holistic review process, meaning they will evaluate how you spend your time outside of your academics to predict how this may reflect your potential to be a contributing member of their student body. This may be a perfect time to embark on fulfilling your D-E Community Service requirement (40 hours), which may lead to both further self-reflection as well as a new area of interest and involvement!


As your Junior year gets underway, remember that your focus on your course work and academic interests is paramount!  There will be many events, tests, college visits, and more to fill your schedule, but nothing is more important than your education.

In the spring semester, you will begin to meet regularly with your College Counselor in a variety of ways including individual and family meetings, College Knowledge (CK) classes, College Counselor visits to your Advisory, and Class meetings.  You will begin to more actively engage in the college research process through CK assignments, including those that will require you to reflect more intentionally on your individual academic/career goals and college aspirations. With your College Counselor, you will craft a preliminary college list that is unique to your attributes as a potential candidate and your particular goals. Through the College Knowledge curriculum, you will be introduced to the elements of the college application, how to more deeply research colleges and universities, and how to carefully construct a college list that is balanced and appropriate for who you are as a student. You will also be encouraged to become a savvy consumer of the opportunities available to you using both online and in-person resources. By the end of your junior year, you will have a full understanding of what you’ll need to accomplish as you compose your college applications. Standardized testing will take place throughout the school year.  While some students will test in the fall, the majority of students will take the SAT or ACT in the spring (March/April/May).

During your junior summer, you will work to narrow your college list by visiting schools, using these tools to discern which schools best fit your preferences and earn a spot on your college list!  You will also work on your college essay and supplements during the summer so that they are ready for review upon returning for your senior year.


Your senior year will be filled with excitement, anticipation, and growth! Upon returning from summer break, you should have your college list narrowed down and very close to finalized.  Don”t worry…you’ll have time to add colleges or remove them as the fall progresses. You will meet with your College Counselor early and often to review your application, personal statement, supplemental essays, and college list. Many students may elect to take an additional standardized test in the fall.

It is critical that you pay close attention to different application plans and deadlines. Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are typically November 1st or 15th, but some may be in early December. Regular Decision deadlines are usually in January or February.  These dates vary from school to school, and it will be critical for you to know the options and corresponding deadlines for all the schools on your list! Your College Counselor will be beside you during every step of this journey.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the college process will come next, as you await to hear the decision from the colleges to which you applied.  

You will have put your best effort forward, the best possible representation of yourself in your application, and received the best counsel there is to offer.  By crafting a balanced, intentional list you will ensure that you have options that YOU want at the end of this process. This will be a time for you to reflect on how far you’ve come, and look forward to the next exciting step on you journey as a life-long learner!