College Timeline

High School trains young people to be life-long learners. People with some post-secondary education/training will out earn those with just a high school diploma. With that in mind, all students at Mishawaka High School are encouraged to seek education and/or training beyond high school.

College preparation starts earlier in high school than most people think. Please refer to the information below to answer questions you may have. If questions still remain (as they should) call the Guidance Office and we’ll clear them up. If we don’t have the answer, we will refer you to a source that does.


Eighth Grade – High School counselors visit the middle school to talk to students about the importance of high school planning in relation to their overall life goals. Students are encouraged to keep a four year high school plan to help them map out the courses necessary to achieve their diploma goal. Please refer to the MHS course offerings guide for specific information about types of diplomas and course requirements. A PDF version is available on this web site.

Ninth Grade – Students develop study habits and begin to work toward their goals. Involvement in rigorous course work is the best way to prepare for college admissions examinations and the academic challenge of college. Stick as closely as you can to your four year plan.

Tenth Grade – Sophomore year is a BIG testing year for high school students. They will take the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) in October. The PSAT is a practice SAT, and is important for college-bound students because it provides them with exposure to actual test questions and gives them a peek at how they would perform on the SAT, if they had taken one that day. Students may use their test results to develop reading, writing and math skills further through involvement in more rigorous course work, outside reading and/or a test preparation course.

Eleventh Grade – Maybe the biggest year of them all. Juniors take the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) in October and their first SAT in May. Colleges are interested in grade trends on applicant transcripts. If they are trending upward in rigorous courses their junior year, that bodes well for a positive admission decision. High GPA’s and low grade point averages draw attention from college admissions officials as do high SAT and low GPA’s. IMPORTANT: Students should not wait until their senior year to take their first SAT!

The Summer between junior and senior year should involve some campus visits and a lot of thought about programs of study that may interest students. The financing of post-secondary education should also be a hot topic. How much is tuition, fees, room/board and books at each college of interest? How will your family pay? What methods of transportation will the student use to get from home to school and back again? Will the student work while on campus?

Grade Twelve – Seniors take college admissions tests in their senior year for the second time…the ACT and SAT are available in October (preferred) and November. Colleges like to receive applications prior to November 1, so students can begin filling them out (on-line or paper) in September. Later applications do not get the same priority for housing and some financial aide as those received early.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is filled out on line for all college-bound students between January 1 and March 10. The result of the information on the FAFSA is the Student Aid Report (SAR) in which the federal governments tells families how much money they will be expected to contribute to their child’s college education. MHS sponsors a financial aid night that helps families navigate the FAFSA. Check our web site, the MHS newsletter and the South Bend Tribine for date and time.

Colleges and universities admit students with the stipulation that they continue to take take challenging classes and earn good grades. Students who don’t may have their admission retracted.