College Prep Checklists Starting From Grade 7

If you've learned anything from us here at AIM, it's that the stress of college planning and college application is significantly decreased if you start to plan early.

Starting early is super crucial in avoiding much of the stress and anxiety of applying to college overseas.

Here's a quick run down of some of the steps /  considerations you should be making at the various stages in your high school life.


You may think it's a bit early to start thinking about college at this point, but trust us -- it is not.

We actually recommend doing an Initial Strategy Consultation with us at AIM from as early as GRADE 8, so that both you AND your student understand fully what is needed for the journey to college ahead. We'll always recommend being PROACTIVE than REACTIVE.

This is the best time to explore your interests and get yourself on track to achieving your goals! Here's what you can do at this point:

  • Focus on developing a high academic standard for yourself by developing good study habits, this will be crucial as you move on to take exit exams and standardised tests. You may need to speak with your guidance counsellor about identifying your study style.
  • Start discussing financing with your parents. This is a very big part of applying to study internationally. You will need to consider the cost of travel, accommodation, tuition and other standard and miscellaneous costs. So, be sure to plan from early.
  • Make wise choices for your exit examinations when the time comes. Sit with your parents and guidance counsellor and choose these subjects well.
  • Explore the extracurricular activities at your school. Participate in the various clubs and societies and don't be afraid to explore multiple- especially at this stage. You will begin to shed and narrow into those that more closely align with your goals by time you're ready to enter upper school.
UPPER SCHOOL: GRADE 9 & 10 / 4th & 5th FORM

Now that you've laid a good foundation for yourself in lower school and, by now, have a pretty good idea about what you want to pursue as a career and where you see yourself in the future, it's time to start taking direct action.

The US & Canadian high school follows a 4 year projection, and so if you are currently enrolled in a system that does not mimic the US & Canadian high school system, you will need to equate your school years to theirs as you prepare to apply to US or Canadian universities. Grade 9 & 10 in the US and Canada is equivalent to 4th & 5th Form in UK & Caribbean based high schools.

Here's what you should be doing during this time period:

  • Focus on preparing for your first round of exit examinations and maintaining a solid academic record.
  • Participate in extracurricular activities, internships and apprenticeships that will look good on your college application and that are relevant to your goals.
  • Talk to your school guidance counsellor and your parents about making some decisions about your career and the steps that will be required.
  • Get in touch with AIM and start working with an advisor and prepping for the PSATs.

This is arguable the most important year in regards to your college application. This is the most recent full year of school that colleges will assess. If there was a time to be extra? It's now. 

  • Prepare for and sit SATs at least once
  • Identify any academic gaps or areas where you need support, and seek help
  • Start talking to your parents about expectations as it relates to budgeting for college. Ask questions like: Do I have a college fund? How much do you think you'll be able to contribute to college per year? Do I need a full scholarship? Then begin exploring your financial aid and sponsorship options with your parents during your college research
  • Maintaining high grades, both for internal examinations etc. but also for the exit exams you will be taking
  • Gather information about the specific colleges you want to attend and begin compiling the requested information and making steps towards making your application
  • Consider taking more difficult classes, such as AP (yes, international students can enrol in AP curricula through College Board) or other online courses
  • Go to as many college fairs as humanly possible, and attend at least one admissions event from each college that you are really interested in
  • Start thinking about making arrangements for college visits to the schools that interested you, if you are able to visit colleges

The final leg! The first half of this year will be filled with not only maintaining school work and extracurricular commitments, but also filling out college applications, writing college essays, and maybe taking the SAT one last time (if needs be).

Here's what this year should look like:

  • Spend the summer making your college list. By the start of the school year, this list should be more or less finalised and you should know exactly which colleges you're planning to apply to
  • From your list, make note of the various deadlines of each school and keep those in mind. It's good if someone else knows and can help keep you accountable.
  • Prepare your essays and have them reviewed by your peers, parents and advisors.
  • Complete your FAFSA, PROFILE and other scholarship applications
  • Request your high school transcript to be sent off to schools that you're applying to
  • Take the standardised test (SAT, ACT etc) in October, November or December if you need another sitting
  • Request teacher recommendations by the end of September the LATEST
  • Submit applications on time and in full

This guide is by no means exhaustive and only offers a cursory look at what is required, at each stage to successfully apply to college.

Want fulsome support that takes you from the starter to line straight to the Winners Circle? Book a consultation with the AIM Online Academy today and we will get you on track!

Author: AIM Online Academy
AIM Online Academy (was AIM Educational Services) is the leading college prep provider in Jamaica, that helps students maximize their potential as they make the journey towards college in the US, UK and Canada. For over a decade, AIM's team of College Experts & Essay Coaches have assisted students from all over the Caribbean, the USA and Canada get into the college of their dreams with enough scholarship and financial aid to actually attend.

You can find out more about how AIM Online Academy can help YOU here:

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