Your senior year of high school should be your busiest year when it comes to college planning. Expect to find that every month, especially for the fall semester, will consist of some sort of college-planning activity.
The most important piece to your organizing is creating a deadline calendar. Skipped deadlines and incorrectly filled out paperwork can cause you to lose out on scholarships, financial aid, and even admission so be diligent in fulfilling your college-planning tasks every month.
Creating a College-Planning Road Map — Senior Year
Make a chart listing each college choice deadline per task, e.g., “Deadline for submitting midyear transcript”: College 1, DD/MM/YY, College 2, DD/MM/YY, College 3 etc.
ACT/SAT – If you missed the May administration for your ACT/SAT, September is the next opportunity to register as testing begins in October.
- Grades – The first semester of your senior year along with your junior year is the most significant for college admissions.
- Colleges – Start reducing your list of college choices to the top 3.
- College Sports – If you play sports and intend to do so in college, your coach should begin to contact the coaches at your intending colleges.
- Early Decision/Early Action – At this time, recommendation forms and accompanying résumés should be given to your recommenders if you intend to apply for early action or early decision.
ACT/SAT Exams – The second round of ACT/SAT testing begins (registration was in September). If you were unable to take said exams in May, October is the next option.
- Applications – Begin to fill out applications online. It is also recommended that you fill out the Common Application online to save time. (The Common Application is a college admissions application that students may use to apply to colleges and universities within the Common Application membership. There are approximately 400 member schools.)
- College Application Essay – Continue to work on your college essay.
- Financial Aid Deadlines – Start noting requirements and deadlines for each college’s financial aid filings.
Reminder Month! Double check deadlines and give deadline reminders to any people who you have given recommendation forms to.
- Applications – Begin to submit applications before deadlines, and if you are a specialty student as in an athlete or performer, remember to send in demo tapes or whatever else specified.
- Transcripts – Colleges may require a midyear transcript. The beginning of spring semester is the time send them out.
- Financial Aid – Whether or not you need financial aid, you can still apply to see if you are eligible for merit-based scholarships. Also, financial aid packages must be submitted by deadlines regardless of a completed tax return.
- Interview – College admissions may require an interview. Check to find out, and then set it up. Scholarship interviews should also be on your radar at this time. For tips on interviewing, see my previous blog entitled, The Scholarship Interview, Parts I, 2, and 3
- Foreign Study Deadlines – If you are studying abroad, make sure you are aware of international college deadlines (May or June) as they may differ from stateside deadlines.
- Housing – If you have been selected for admission to the college of your choice and have decided to enroll, be sure to secure housing as soon as possible, whether it is finding an apartment or submitting campus housing paperwork. The sooner, the better, literally.
- Wait-listing – Now is the time to file appeals if you have been wait-listed for financial aid, housing, etc.
- Final Transcripts – Final transcripts should be sent to the colleges requesting them.
Resource: “The All-in-One College Guide” by Marty Nemko, Ph.D