HS Seniors: College Timeline for High School

One of the most important goals for your senior year is to remain focused on your academics. Don’t allow “senioritis” to creep in and ruin all of your hard work.

As you start the college application process, be aware of the many deadlines you must deal with: testing deadlines, financial aid deadlines, scholarship deadlines, and, of course, application deadlines. This is a year where organization is critical!

Throughout Senior Year

• Meet all your deadlines!


• Meet with your school counselor to discuss college plans. Make sure you meet all requirements for graduation and have all the credits needed for the colleges on your list.

• Keep working on grades and continue with extracurricular and volunteer activities.

• Discuss final college choices and financial aid with counselors, teachers, and parents/guardians.

• If you are applying for Early Decision or Early Action, check the deadlines; they are typically in early fall. Allow enough time to prepare essays and give recommendation forms to teachers, counselors, and mentors. Follow up to make sure your high school has sent your transcripts to the college(s). Be sure to schedule any required interview or audition with the college(s).

• Make sure that you have all forms required for college admission and financial aid. Print extra copies and/or make photocopies of every application you send. Keep a record of the date each was sent.


• Take SAT or ACT tests as needed. Be well-rested on the day of any test, eat a good breakfast that morning, have your admission ticket ready, know where you are going and how long it will take to get there. If necessary, register for December or January SATs at http://sat.collegeboard.org/register.

• Request recommendations from teachers, counselors, mentors, and/or employers. Give them any necessary forms, with your part properly filled out, along with stamped, college-addressed envelopes.

• Attend a college fair or if college representatives visit your school, schedule time to speak with those you are likely to apply.


• Prepare applications for regular college admission. Keep in mind that deadlines for submitting these are usually the end of December or early January. Arrange for your high school to send official transcripts to colleges and schedule required interviews.

• Allow enough time to prepare essays and other required materials.

• Start gathering information needed for the FAFSA and any other financial aid applications. Follow the submission deadlines. Note that the FAFSA should not be submitted before January 1. For more details: www.fafsa.ed.gov.

• Attend financial aid information events at your school or locally. 


• Confirm that your standardized test scores (official SAT and ACT scores) have been sent to the college(s) of your choice.

• Arrange and confirm with your school counselor that transcripts and recommendations have been sent to the colleges to which you are applying.

• If applying for early admission, you will begin hearing from those colleges now. Early Decision plans are binding and require withdrawal of any applications to other colleges. Early Action plans allow you to confirm your acceptance immediately or wait until the spring to accept admission.

• Watch the deadlines on the applications for admission and financial aid at the colleges you are applying to. While colleges with rolling admissions allow students to apply throughout the year, students who apply as early as possible can increase their chances of being admitted.


• Complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. If your parents have not completed their tax forms yet, you may submit estimated information on the FAFSA and financial aid applications, but remember that corrections will have to be made later on.

• If you submit the FAFSA online, it will be processed faster. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to learn about filing options.

• For help in completing the FASFA, look for FASFA completion workshops or contact a local college’s financial aid office.

• If you haven’t yet done so, contact admissions offices at the colleges where you applied to confirm that they have everything needed from you.

• Complete scholarship applications. Many priority financial aid deadlines are in January or February. Keep copies of everything you send.


• You should have received your Student Aid Report (SAR). Make any corrections and return to the FAFSA processor. Make sure colleges receive your corrected SAR.

• Continue your applications and watch the deadlines!


• Contact financial aid offices at the colleges to confirm that they have all of your aid application materials.

• Keep up your academic work and your extracurricular activities. Don’t slack off! Many colleges check your senior year grades.

• As college acceptances arrive, compare acceptance letters, scholarship offers, and financial aid packages.

• Choose your college, and find out deadlines for your acceptance letter and deposit check. Most colleges require acceptance notification to be postmarked by May 1. Don’t miss the deadline!


• May 1 is the deadline for acceptance notifications at most colleges. Make sure you notify all colleges whether or not you plan to attend by their preferred method (either electronically or by mail).

• Take Advanced Placement (AP) exams for AP subjects you have taken.

• If you are on a college’s waiting list, and are still interested, contact the college and let the admissions office know.

• Be sure to follow the college’s deadlines for submission of housing and board contracts as well as fees for tuition, room, and board.


• Participate in summer orientation programs offered by the college you will be attending. Check up on your residence hall assignment, roommate assignment, and course schedules.

• Arrange for required medical exams and for health insurance coverage if you have not already done so.

• You’re on your way! Study hard!