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College Planning Checklist for 12th Graders

It’s your senior year! After several years of hard work, you’ve made the decision to apply to college. Needless to say, this year is full of important to-dos. Here’s a checklist to help keep you on track for success when it comes time to apply for college. 

 

August-December To-Do's

Finalize your college list: By the fall of your senior year, you should be whittling down your college list. After you’re done, you should be left with a balanced list of colleges representing a landscape of acceptance likelihoods.

Consider and Plan for Re-Testing: There’s still time to re-test if you’d like to improve the score that you submit with your applications. Plan ahead and register for an early date! Remember to ask for assistance completing a fee waiver if you require one.

Complete the FAFSA: Be ready to complete the FAFSA which opens on October 1. Remember that the early you apply, the better positioned you are to receive aid.

Complete the CSS Profile: If you’ll be applying to a college or university that accepts this application for aid, you’ll want to complete it as soon as possible.

Tidy up those essays: Fall is the time to finalize your essays. Have someone close to you proofread your work. If you’re applying early, make sure not to put this work off until the last minute.

Stay on top of recommendations: Come fall of senior year, hopefully, you’ve asked for a teacher recommendation. Check-in with your recommender to see that they have all the information they need to write on your behalf.

Prepare for early decision: If you’ve decided to apply early, prepare your applications as early as possible, preparing for most early due dates to fall between November 1-15.

Generally, stay organized: With so many responsibilities coming your way, staying organized is the key to success. Make sure your calendar is marked with due dates for all of the items listed above.

January-March To-Do's

Winter during your senior year can be a quiet, yet intense time. With a lot of the big work behind you, here are some smaller things to keep your eye on.

 

Confirm your applications: Most schools will send some type of confirmation to acknowledge that they’ve received your application. Make sure you’ve received confirmations for each application!

Verify your financial aid: At this point (we hope), you’ve completed your FAFSA and should have received your Student Aid Report (SAR). Take the time to review the SAR carefully and address and discrepancies.

Research scholarship opportunities: After you’ve reviewed your SAR, and have had a conversation with your parents/guardians and mentors about financials, it’s important to know that there’s still time to research and apply for scholarships.

Meet with your counselor: At this point, it’s never a bad idea to meet with your counselor for one more check-in before graduation. They can help ensure you’re on track for graduation and send any first-semester grades to colleges as needed. Remember to keep those grades up because colleges are still watching!

Write thank-you notes: Whoever took the time to write a recommendation letter for you deserves to get a thank-you note! Take the time to hand-write and drop off letters to these people in your downtime.

Continue making memories: As you move through the winter months and into early spring, emotions can run high. Make sure you’re making the most of your time with the people who matter most to you.

April-July To-Do's

Keep your grades up: How your finish your senior year matters. Keep your grades up, and don’t slack! Colleges are still paying attention.

Review financial aid offer letters: Since there is no standard financial aid award letter, it’s critical that you review your letters with a sharp eye. Doing so will ensure you’re accepting the best package for your

Make final decisions: With your final options in hand, it’s time to make a choice (listen to our podcast for tips on making this choice). Moreover, once you’ve made a choice you need to reply with an acceptance or rejection.

Make your final deposit: Send the school you’ll be attending the deposit due.

Ensure your final transcript is sent: Check in with your high school to make sure your final transcript is sent.

Consider your waitlist options: Have you been waitlisted? Carefully consider what your next steps will be so that you can proceed with confidence.

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