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4 min read

College and Career Planning Checklist for 12th Graders

College and Career Planning Checklist for 12th Graders

Your senior year is approaching! After years of hard work, you’ve decided to apply to college (or pursue a career!). Needless to say, this year is full of important to-dos. Here’s a senior year checklist to help keep you on track for success.

☀️ Senior Year August-December To-Dos ❄️

Finalize your college (or career) list: By the fall of your senior year, you should be whittling down your college or career list. After you’re done, you should be left with a balanced list of around 6-8 colleges (or careers!) representing a landscape of acceptance likelihoods.

Now is also the time to start applying to colleges or jobs. Your spring self will thank you!

Consider and plan for re-testing: There’s still time to re-test if you’d like to improve the score you'll 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 as soon as possible. Remember that the earlier you apply, the better positioned you are to receive aid.

Complete the CSS Profile: If you're applying to a college or university that accepts the CSS Profile for financial aid, you’ll want to complete the CSS Profile as soon as possible.

Tidy up those essays: Fall is the time to finalize your essays. Have someone close to you proofread your work. Especially if you’re applying early, don't put this work off until the last minute. This article on writing standout college essays could help provide some final inspo!

If you're planning to enter the workforce after high school, tidy up your resume instead!

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. (This can also be super helpful for your first full-time job!)

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.

Add your GPA and test scores: If your school's settings allow, upload your GPA and test scores to your Scoir profile. This will help give you better-informed scattergrams, which show historical admissions decisions using GPAs and SAT/ACT scores of students who graduated from your high school before you.

To learn more about scattergrams in Scoir, check out this helpful document.
(P.S. Don't worry! GPA and test scores won't be automatically sent to colleges.)

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.

☃️ Senior Year January-March To-Dos 🍀

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 (and jobs) 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: You can now complete your FAFSA! Soon, you'll receive your FAFSA Submission Summary and financial aid offers. Take the time to review the Submission Summary carefully and address any discrepancies.

Research scholarship opportunities: After you’ve reviewed your Submission Summary and financial aid offers, and have talked with your parents/guardians and mentors about finances, it’s important to know there’s still time to research and apply for scholarships.

Regardless of whether you're exploring going to college or starting a career after high school, ensure you take the time to build a budget to follow once you graduate.

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, send any first-semester grades to colleges as needed, or provide support as you apply for jobs.

Remember to keep those grades up because colleges (and potential employers) 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! 😊 

🌼 Senior Year April-July To-Dos 🌅

Keep your grades up: How you finish your senior year matters. Keep your grades up, and don’t slack (fight the senioritis)! Colleges and potential employers are still paying attention.

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

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.

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

Make your final deposit: Send the school you want to attend the deposit that's due. If you're moving out on your own and looking to rent, you'll need to put down a deposit for that as well.

Register for orientation and make a housing deposit (if living on campus or on your own): These will be important details to have settled before arriving to campus or your new home!

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

Celebrate: You did it! We're so proud of you and are cheering you on in this new, exciting chapter! We hope this senior year checklist was helpful.

If you're interested, feel free to make a Scoir account for free. On Scoir, you can search for colleges, build your list, and even apply to schools!

 

This article was originally published on October 8, 2021. It was updated on June 10, 2024 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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