Seniors who aspire to attend college are very busy people. What has seemed far in the future is now upon you — crunch time to prepare applications that will secure your admission to your best-fit schools.
Here are steps to take in your senior year.
- Finalize Your College List
For most students, you’re final list should be pared down to a pre-determined number of schools. With too few schools on the list, you won’t be spreading your risk sufficiently. With too many schools,you’ll dissipate your focus and effort. A good number to reach for is 8 to 10 colleges that are a good Fit and Match for you.
- Paying for It
When finalizing your college list, don’t neglect a very important question — Can you handle it financially?October 1 is the first day that a student applying for financial aid can access, complete, and submit the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE forms. These forms require a great deal of effort by you and your parents. The deadlines vary by college, but a head start is helpful.
- Write Your Essays
Allow plenty of time to brainstorm topics, outline, draft, and polish your essays and personal statements. This is crucial, especially if you are applying to schools that require supplemental essays.Essay questions are broad, which can make it difficult to know how to relate the topic to your life. Obtain input from others on your topics and approach. Be wary of having too many adult editors.
- Complete Your Application and Submit
Work hard on your applications. If you’re applying Early Admission to any schools, the usual deadline is November 1. For Regular Decision, the deadline is usually January 2.
You may be able to choose which application platform to use. If possible, use only one. The Common App is accepted by nearly 900 colleges and many schools that accept other apps also accept the Common App.
- Submit Senior Fall Semester Grades
As soon they’re available, send your fall semester grades to the schools to which you’ve applied. This will be after you’ve submitted the application, but admissions officers want to be able to incorporate the data into their decision.
- The Decisions of Your Colleges
Acceptance, rejection and waitlist letters arrive between late February and early April. You usually have until April 30 to accept an offer of admission. Don’t put too much faith in waitlists. Among the colleges that use them, only a small percentage of waitlisted students ever receive an acceptance letter.
- Your Decision
If you’re accepted to more than one school, weigh all options. Talk with parents, other family members, teachers, mentors, and friends. Examine available financial aid and the total expenses at each school. If possible, visit the campuses of your two finalists to compare them closely.
- Final Steps
Colleges have a deposit deadline of May 1st. Once senior year is over, send your final high school transcript to the college you’ll be attending. These grades may help you secure a scholarship or qualify fora competitive academic program.If you took AP classes during senior year and have passed the national exams with a score of 4 or 5, you may be able to earn college credits and skip a required course.