It’s finally here—your senior year. You might feel that senior slide start to creep in… but wait!
While your time in high school may be coming to a close, there’s still a lot of work left to do. If you’re planning on going to college next fall, it’s game time. The college application process can feel overwhelming, but this checklist for your senior year can help you hit the ground running.
- Get organized. You’re going to be receiving a TON of information in the coming months from colleges, from the FAFSA, from ACT. Doing these three things can make your life a little easier:
- Get an accordion folder. Here, you can store all the documents colleges send you through the mail and any confirmation pages you may need to print.
- Make a master calendar. Include deadlines for college applications, scholarship applications, college decisions, reference letters, and anything else that’s relevant to your college application process.
- Find one place to keep all your usernames and passwords. Whether that’s in a notebook or somewhere secure online, write these down because it can be a pain to change them.
- Talk to your high school guidance counselor or advisor. They can be an excellent resource to you throughout the college application journey. If you can’t afford an application fee, your counselor may also be able to provide you with a fee waiver.
- Register to take the ACT one more time. If you’re wanting to bring up your score, there’s still time—but you should take the test no later than October. After that, your scores may not make it in time for colleges to decide about your admission.
- Go on college visits. Whether there are still colleges you’re interested in that you haven’t visited, or you want to go back to refresh your memory, now is the time.
- Start your college applications! Complete at least one college app by Thanksgiving, but be sure you’re also watching other deadlines. Many of your college applications will need to be completed before winter break.
- Make sure your ACT/SAT scores have been sent to your colleges. When you registered for these tests, you had the option to have your scores sent to colleges of your choice. If you end up needing to send them to other schools, talk to your counselor about the process. Your school may be able to send it, otherwise you can pay for ACT/SAT to send it for you.
- Fill out the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid becomes available on October 1. If you want financial aid to help you pay for college, you must fill out this form! Check back here mid-September for some FAFSA tips.
- Write first drafts of your college essays. The essays built in to your college applications are your opportunity to really demonstrate who you are and tell colleges why they should let you in.
- Ask your counselor to send your transcripts. Give them at least a couple of weeks notice before the deadline.
- Ask for letters of recommendation. If your applications require recommendations, ask for these as early as possible. Whether it’s a teacher or counselor that you ask to write these letters, give them an outline of your academic record and extracurricular activities so they have some concrete information to work with.
- Finish your college apps! And keep copies of anything that you can, especially your essays.
- Make sure all additional information has been sent in. Transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation. Colleges might be following up with you with something that you’ve missed, so be sure you’re checking your email.
- Start looking for scholarships. The best place to start is at your school! Talk to your high school counselor for more details. You’ll have the best shot at local scholarships and scholarships offered through the college you attend (you can ask your college admission counselor for more details about these).
- Start weighing your options. You should receive acceptance letters and financial aid packages (these will help you estimate how much each college will cost) by mid-April or earlier.
- Squeeze in another college visit or two. If it will help in your decision making process, go back to your top few schools to get one more look at what life might be like on that campus.
- Decide and inform every college of your decision by May 1. Even if your decision is no, be sure to formally decline.
- Send in your deposit. You only send this to one school—the one you’ve chosen!
- Tie up any loose ends. This could be registering for housing, setting up your college email, accepting financial aid offerings—the college you choose will tell you what you need to do. Just be sure you’re watching the mail and your email for next steps.
- Take AP Exams. If you’re in any of these classes they could earn you college credit!
- Continue looking for scholarships. College isn’t free! Make the financial burden easier on yourself and/or your family.
- Finish strong. Colleges may request to see a final copy of your transcript. If you’re sliding through last semester with grades below their standards, they could retract their admission offer. Sprint through that finish line!
One more note: every college is different.
Some colleges may have a timeline of their own—but if you follow all the steps listed above and stay in touch with your prospective schools you’ll be in good shape. Below is an example of an enrollment timeline for students planning to attend Bethel University.
Interested in learning more about Bethel University? Visit our website to schedule a campus tour or register for a Preview Day.