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Education Planning > Countdown To College Checklist: Senior Year

Countdown To College Checklist: Senior Year Checklist

By the time you start your senior year, planning for college will quickly pick up speed.

Fall

  • Make a list of all the things you need to do and the deadlines you need to meet during your senior year of high school. You'll be taking entrance exams, completing applications, paying fees, and much more.
  • Review your coursework with your guidance counselor to be sure that you've taken (or are scheduled to take) all the courses you'll need for admission to your preferred colleges.
  • Study. The grades you earn in the fall of your senior year of high school are usually the last to make it onto your academic transcripts before they're sent to the colleges you apply to.
  • Continue to pursue extracurricular activities.
  • If you haven't already done so, get admissions forms for each of the colleges you've chosen. Complete the forms and essays (as required) and submit them by the required deadlines. Many colleges now offer an online admission option; check college Websites for information.
  • Remember to have your teachers, counselor, or principal complete your Secondary School Reports, as required.
  • Be sure to keep copies of everything you send, so you can refer to or resend them later if you have to.
  • If you've changed your list of schools you're applying to since you took the ACT® or SAT®, arrange to have your test scores forwarded to the colleges you're applying to.
  • Visit the colleges you're most interested in attending. There's no substitute for actual experience. Try to connect with a current student so you can see what classes and dorm life are really like.

Winter

  • File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1. You can complete it online at fafsa.ed.gov or fill out a printed form and mail it. In some cases, you can apply directly through your school. You'll need information from your parents' tax return to complete the application, so ask them to file early.
  • After your application has been reviewed, you'll be able to view your Student Aid Report (SAR) online. This will include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a number used by schools to calculate how much you'll be expected to pay for college, as well as the amount of federal student aid you may be eligible for.
  • Ask your high school to send your transcripts to the colleges you're applying to.
  • Boys who are 18 years or older must be registered for Selective Service to receive student financial aid.
  • Complete scholarship applications.
  • Consider taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams. They offer the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation's colleges and universities.

Spring

  • Watch your mailbox because many colleges announce acceptance decisions in April. If you can, make one last visit to each of the schools you're accepted to. Once you make your decision, be sure to return your acceptance letter by the deadline (usually the beginning of May) to save your spot.
  • If you've been accepted by more than one college, take the time to notify the colleges you won't be attending of your decision. It's good form.
  • Student financial aid letters usually arrive by the beginning of May. If you need additional funding, it's not too late to apply for a student loan.
  • Submit your tuition deposit to the college you've chosen. Be sure to get it on time (typically early in May). A late payment could jeopardize your admission.
  • If you're not admitted to any of the colleges you applied to, see your guidance counselor. He or she may have options you may not be aware of.
  • If you're "wait-listed" by a college and intend to enroll if accepted, call, visit or write to the admissions director to reaffirm your intention. Take the opportunity to ask how you can improve your standing on the wait list.

Summer

  • Follow the college's financial aid instructions closely.
  • Get a job to earn extra money for the school year.
  • Open a bank account you can access at college − a checking account with a debit card is recommended, and possibly a savings account.
 

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