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Below you will find a detailed timeline of what to expect throughout the college counseling and college application process.

Freshman Year

In freshman year, the main task is to simply get accustomed to high school and broaden your horizons. We recommend that you:

  • Explore all that Sonoma Academy has to offer.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Try some new things: exploratories, intersession, clubs, athletics, performances, speech & debate, student leadership... there are a lot of ways to move beyond your familiar comfort zones and take some risks.
  • In March, students select their sophomore year courses. College Counselor Dot Kowal attends advising meetings and is available to students to discuss their course selections. Department Chairs, student advisors, the Registrar and the Assistant Head of School are all available to help the course selection process. 

Sophomore Year

Sophomore year, especially towards the later part of the year, is a time when the college begins to come a little more into focus.

  • Take challenging courses; keep exploring and refining interests.
  • Students take the PSAT in October. Results come back in December and can be a good indication of how they'll do on the real SAT or ACT.

  • We recommend that sophomores visit three to four Bay Area colleges for a college tour. Mostly this is an opportunity just to begin to learn about what's out there. Understanding the difference between big and small, or urban, suburban, and rural, can help get a jump on college thinking.
  • Sophomore retreat and the "Sophomore Conversation," give sophomores a chance to get to know our College Counselor more informally. In addition, each has a one-on-one meeting with their advisor to talk about high school and hopes and plans for the future.
  • Sophomore parent nights with our College Counselor begin, including the Sophomore College Advising Night where sophomores get a sense of where they stand (with PSAT and GPA) and what college trajectory they might be on.
  • Spring break is a great time to visit colleges outside the Bay Area, either independently or on the SA College Trip. 

  • Take the SAT Subject Tests in June, if appropriate. Talk with your teachers about these.
  • Visit colleges, get an internship or a job, relax and get ready for a long junior year!

Junior Year

Junior year is an important time in the college planning and preparation process. 

  • Focus on classes and intellectual endeavors—this is a particularly important year in terms of college admission. 
  • Choose and commit to your favorite extracurricular activities. Seek leadership roles when you can.
  • Juniors can now attend the college visitors who present at Sonoma Academy. We have roughly 80 colleges visit and meet with our students in small groups.
  • Students will again take the PSAT. This year’s score is more important than last year’s as it may qualify you for the National Merit, National Achievement and/or National Hispanic scholarship programs.
  • Juniors will take a practice SAT and ACT to understand the difference between the tests, and also attend an evening meeting to discuss testing and test prep. 
  • Official kick-off of the college process.
  • Juniors begin one-on-one meetings with our College Counselor.
  • There is also an informational presentation on the college process presented by the Colleege Counselor.
  • Have a family discussion about factors that may affect the college search, e.g., finances, proximity to home. Parents: if you are setting any specific parameters, now is the time to share them with your son/daughter!
  • Complete College Counseling Questionnaire.
  • Parents complete Family Report.
  • Plan and register for junior-year testing (usually the March SAT or April ACT). Sonoma Academy hosts a test prep company (Rev Prep) who offers test prep classes on campus for a fee for those interested. However, you certainly do not need to do any substantial test prep before the first test.  
  • Juniors meet with the College Counselor every Wednesday during the Connections block for two hours as the college process starts in earnest.
  • Another chance to go on the SA spring break college trip
  • Most SA students will take their first ‘real’ SAT or ACT in March or April of their junior year.
  • Put yourself on mailing lists of any colleges of interest.
  • Attend college informational meetings in the Bay Area (if you’re on colleges’ mailing lists, they’ll invite you).
  • Attend Bay Area Case Studies program.
  • Apply for summer programs/jobs/internships.
  • As you begin to wrap up your junior year, keep all of the papers that you wrote over the year. Some colleges ask for a graded paper as part of the college application, so don’t throw these things out!
  • If you plan to play a varsity sport in college, complete the NCAA Clearinghouse form.
  • Think about which teachers you’d like to have write your college recommendations and chat with them about it (plan on having two write on your behalf).
  • End the school year with a “working” college list of 15-25 colleges/universities.
  • Have a great summer. Get lots of rest and relaxation!

Senior Year

The first semester of senior year will be focused on completing college applications (in addition to course work and extra curriculars).

  • Figure out if and when you are going to take the SAT/ACT/SAT Subject Tests and register for them.
  • Brainstorm personal statement ideas.
  • Make sure you’re on the mailing lists of all colleges/universities of interest.
  • Schedule a meeting with the College Counselor.
  • College Counseling class continues for two hours every Wednesday during the Connections block. 
  • Attend informational meetings with colleges both at school and off-campus.
  • Check-in with the teachers who are going to write your letters of recommendation.
  • Register for the CSS Profile if you plan to apply for financial aid.
  • Log on to the Common Application’s website www.commonapp.org and register. 
  • Begin applications to any colleges with Rolling, Early Action and/or Early Decision admission programs.
  • If you are applying to any college or university Early Action or Early Decision, you must notify your College Counselor and teachers and give them the appropriate forms by October 1. Also, send your ACT/SAT/SAT Subject test results to the colleges/universities to which you are applying ED/EA.
  • Attend informational meetings at school and off-campus.
  • UC and CSU applications become available on-line.
  • Work on Common App, CSU & UC applications during Connections/Exploratory.
  • Attend Financial Aid Night if you are applying for financial aid.
  • Finish any Rolling Decision applications.
  • November 1-30: Filing period for UC and CSU applications. Do NOT wait until November 30 to submit.
  • November 1 or 15: typical Early Action and Early Decision application deadlines.
  • Work on college applications.
  • Submit and review final college application list with College Counselor by the end of the month.
  • Mid-December: EA/ED notification.
  • Send your ACT/SAT/SAT Subject test results to the colleges and universities you are applying Regular Decision.
  • Finish your college applications.
2500 Farmers Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Sonoma Academy is...

The only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On its beautiful 34-acre campus nestled at the base of picturesque Taylor Mountain in South Santa Rosa, Sonoma Academy students are able to explore their interests and passions in a challenging environment that prepares them for college and life beyond.