St. Paul's School for Girls

Grades 5-12 All-Girls Middle and Upper School

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FOUR-YEAR Timeline

The college process is an incredible authentic learning experience. It calls for the development of self-knowledge, the sharpening of a student’s decision-making abilities, and the growing of her capacity for patience and humility. Although the "formal" college search begins junior year, the growth process begins when a student enters SPSG.

While these are grade specific reminders and tasks that serve as a benchmark, it is important to recognize that the college process is highly individualized and that our office is committed to offering each student as much assistance as she needs to feel confident about her final decision. 

Freshman Year

  • Do the best that you can do with the time that you have, and no one can ask for better. (Colleges do look at your final freshman year grades and they do factor into your GPA.)
  • Get involved! Revel in the things that you love and explore things that you might come to love. Be authentic in your choices.
  • Build relationships. Get to know your teachers and allow them to get to know you. One day you just might need to ask them for a recommendation.
  • Work closely with your teachers and advisors to make sure that you are challenging yourself appropriately in your courses.
  • Do some outside reading – novels, nonfiction, newspaper articles, or even food magazines!

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to do your best, get involved, and build relationships at school. Remember to build a life that makes you happy, not just a life that will look like it makes you happy.
  • In school you will take the PSAT to practice for the SAT as well as a practice ACT. These scores are not recorded anywhere; this is strictly for your own practice, but you want to do your best so you learn your strengths and weaknesses. Take the tests seriously. 
  • Work closely with your advisor to make sure your junior year classes involve appropriate challenge.
  • Do some outside reading – novels, nonfiction, newspaper articles, or even food magazines!
  • Make some summer plans that involve work, academic coursework, service work, or exploring a passion or interest. Visit the counseling office for some ideas!
  • Think about taking the SAT Subject Test for subjects (like Chemistry) that you are currently completing.

Junior Year

Fall Semester:  

  • Continue to do your best in classes and activities and to build relationships at school.
  • Continue your involvement in authentic activities, maybe even step into a leadership role in one of these interests.
  • Attend a coordinated Case Study Program, featuring college and university admission deans and directors.
  • Check out the schedule and attend the college admissions rep visits to begin discovering schools that you like.
  • In school you will take the PSAT again. Other than to qualify for the National Merit Student Scholarship, these scores will not ever be shared with colleges.
  • Think about starting to prepare for standardized testing, either in a class or with a one-on-one tutor.

Spring Semester:

  • In January attend a family college night to learn what to expect in the semesters ahead.
  • Complete the student questionnaire on Scoir and attend a one-on-one meeting with your college counselor.
  • Take SAT and/or ACT at least once by March.  
  • Parents should log onto Scoir to complete the parent questionnaire before a family college counseling meeting.
  • Consider planning a college trip over spring break. Ask your college counselor to help you craft a trip.
  • Attend the AIMS College Fair in April.
  • Complete your Initial Teacher Recommender List.
  • Use Resources to explore options and ideas from experts in the field.
  • Work closely with your advisor and your college counselor to plan your senior year schedule.


  • Make summer plans that involve work, service work, academic coursework, or exploring a passion or interest. Visit the college counseling office for some ideas!
  • Athletes should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at the conclusion of Junior year after report cards are issued.
  • Attend a College Application ‘Word’shop to work on applications, essays, interviews, and more!
  • Plan some campus visits for the summer, scheduling interviews where possible. Set up visits (especially overnight) for the fall as well.
  • Begin to narrow down your college list to schools to which you are interested applying
  • Check in with your college counselor as questions or new ideas arise.
  • Register to take either the SAT or the ACT one final time. Statistically, SPSG students’ scores go up in fall of senior year.

Senior Year


  • Continue to do your best in your classes.
  • Continue your involvement in authentic activities, maybe even step into a leadership role in one of these interests.
  • Plan to take fall/winter SAT or ACT. Finish SAT Subject Test testing if necessary.
  • Beginning the first week of school, plan to meet with your counselor on a regular basis to narrow list, review applications and essays, and assure completion of all steps.
  • Submit all materials needed in a timely fashion. Your counselors need three weeks notice in advance of deadlines!!
  • As you apply, log into admissions pages to check that they have received materials.
  • Plan to visit colleges, scheduling interviews where possible. 
  • Attend college admission representative visits on campus for schools of interest.
  • All college applications should be completed BEFORE exams.


  • Continue to log into admissions pages to check that they have received materials.
  • Complete the FAFSA in January if applying for financial aid.
  • January is the last testing date that will enable scores to reach colleges in time for regular decision admission.
  • Avoid senior slump! Schools are still looking at scores and final grades in your final transcript could result in rescinded offers.
  • Read all communication from colleges carefully.
  • This is the time to practice patience and humility.
  • Once you receive decisions, consider your options, especially giving your family time to weigh financial aid offers.
  • Be sure to meet the May 1 deposit deadline.
  • Sign up for orientation programs offered over the summer.
  • Take the college sweatshirt picture and receive your diploma!
11232 Falls Road
P.O. Box 8000
Brooklandville, Maryland 21022
TEL: 410-823-6323
SECURITY: 443-862-2294
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