Charting Your Plan Planning for College

College Application Planning for Seniors

Written by CB Experts

One of the most important goals for your senior year is to remain focused on your academics. You can not allow senioritis to creep in and ruin all of your hard work in your previous high school years.

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

Hopefully this timeline will help you keep track of the things you need to get done month by month!


  • Start writing drafts for your college application and scholarship essays. All essays should be be reviewed and polished to perfection. Consider using a professional editing service for your final polish. They will make sure your essay is the best it can possibly be!
  • Schedule college visits and any required interviews.
  • Prepare for the SAT and ACT by taking a prep course  and/or reviewing and taking practice tests on your own.
  • Finalize your high school resume. Consider using a professional editing service to review your resume.


  • On the first day of school, be sure to register for both the SAT and/or the ACT to be administered in October; the deadlines for both tests are fast approaching!
  • TIP: To save time, you should register online at the College Board for the SAT and/or Subject tests, but you will need to pay by credit card. If you have a fee waiver or prefer not to use a credit card, you MUST complete a regular registration form and mail the form with your payment enclosed before the registration deadline date.
  • Pick up a free copy of Taking the SAT in your high school guidance office and take time to read through this booklet. Be sure to take the practice test! If you are planning to take the ACT, you should also request a copy of Taking the ACT Assessment.
  • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss your college plans to be sure that your list includes colleges appropriate to your academic and personal needs; review your senior course schedule and adjust it, if necessary; and review your official permanent record for accuracy.
  • If you are a college-bound athlete who intends to participate in athletics at a Division I or II college or university, you MUST complete the NCAA Clearinghouse Form. The initial eligibility form is available in your guidance office or online at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website.
  • Meet with admission representatives who are visiting your school.
  • Attend the college fair in your area. Pick up current college applications, financial aid information, brochures, and college catalogs
  • TIP: Request a business card from the college rep so that you will have his/her contact information available to you during the college application process.
  • Continue to plan visits to colleges and schedule required college interviews either on campus or with college alumni.
  • In late September, register to take the November SAT or Subject Tests.


  • In early October complete the registration for the CSS/ PROFILE for financial aid, if needed.
  • Take SAT and/or ACT tests.
  • Give Teacher Recommendations Forms to your teachers and the School Report Form to your guidance counselor.
  • If applicable, meet your November 1st Early Decision deadline. Mail in your ED application postmarked BEFORE November 1st!


  • If applicable, meet the November 15th Early Decision deadline. Submit these applications during the first week of November!
  • Be aware that very early in November the SAT/Subject Tests Registration Deadline is due for the December Test Date.
  • Be aware that in the first week of November the ACT Registration Deadline for the December test date is due.
  • Take Subject Tests of the College Board exam.


  • Submit your financial aid profile to appropriate colleges.
  • Obtain a copy of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from your guidance office and attend the Financial Aid Night at your high school.
  • All college applications should be mailed before your winter break! Even applications due February 1st should be mailed now so you can be both ahead of time and so you can relax.
  • TIP: Always make copies of your application to file for reference and proof of submission.
  • Now that your college applications are done, devote serious time finding outside scholarships to help offset college costs.


  • Complete and mail the FAFSA during the first week of January.
  • TIP: Keep copies of your financial aid forms, too.
  • Study hard and do well on your mid-semester exams.
  • Do NOT get senioritis and slack off during the second semester of your senior year.
  • REMIND PARENTS! Taxes should be completed as early as possible; colleges may request them to prove eligibility for financial aid.


  • Check to see that your Mid-Year transcript and Mid-Year Report Forms have been sent to all of the colleges to which you applied.
  • Continue your search for outside scholarship opportunities and complete the scholarship applications.


  • Keep an eye out for your Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail. Your SAR contains federal financial aid information.
  • Review your SAR carefully for accuracy; make any corrections that are needed and then return it to the FAFSA processing center.
  • If requested by any college, submit your SAR and tax forms to the financial aid office. Contact each college’s financial aid office to make certain that your application is complete. Be sure to ask what else you need to do to establish and maintain your eligibility for financial aid.


College acceptance letters start to arrive!

  • Review your financial aid award packages with your parents. Be sure you understand the differences in the types of aid that you receive so that you can accurately make comparisons between colleges.
  • Make your final decision on the college that you want to attend; then mail in the deposit before the deadline.
  • Notify all the other schools that you will not be attending. This is important for other students hoping to get off the wait list. They need a space to open up for them before they have a chance to be admitted.


  • May 1st – Universal Acceptance Day! This is the absolute deadline to decide on your preferred college. You MUST let the college know by this date and send your deposit. Congratulations!
  • Write thank you notes to every person who helped you through the college process!
  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) Exams to get possible college credit(s).


Happy Graduation!

About the author

CB Experts

Content created by retired College Admissions consultants.