College Prep Timeline

For Rising Seniors Action Reduces Anxiety! The college prep time line includes:

  • College search information

  • Financial aid and scholarship information

  • Testing information

  • Associations/Organizations/Special Interest/Extracurricular

  • Career information

  • College Visit Checklist/Comparison Worksheet/Tracking Chart


End of Junior Year


  • Develop a preliminary list of colleges that interest you. Write or email to request a view book and additional information (use handout in resource packet). Make a file for each college you are interested in and gather information about academics, financial aid, and campus life. Go to college fairs and open houses and learn as much as you can about colleges online.

  • Consider registering for SAT and/or ACT.

  • Discuss financial aid with parents/guardians. Visit:

  • Plan a rigorous course schedule for your senior year.

  • Consider taking AP exams for any AP courses you have taken as a Junior.

  • Plan college visits. Spring break (APRIL 8-12) is a good time to visit. Try to visit colleges near you. Include large, medium, and small size campuses. Have some goals and objectives in mind (be active – ask questions – use handout in resource packet).

  • Prepare to take AP Exams

  • Begin lining up a summer job, internship, or volunteer work.




  • Take AP exams.

  • Create a checklist and calendar to chart:

    • Standardized test dates, registration deadlines, and fees

    • College application due dates

    • Financial aid application forms and deadlines

    • Other materials you’ll need for college applications (recommendations, transcripts, essays, etc.)

    • Scholarship forms and deadlines

    • Recommendation letters

  • Take a look at some college applications. Begin to compile all the different pieces of information you will need (use handout in resource packet).

  • Make a list of teachers, counselors, employers, and other adults you are considering for recommendations.

  • Request summer reading list from teachers.




  • Continue exploring college options.

  • Begin thinking about your applications. Generally, colleges will have their applications online by the beginning of August.

  • Work on your essay before you return to school!

  • Practice and prepare for SAT and ACT – use your custom PSAT QuickStart ( as a resource and

  • Get on Naviance and use the tools to help assess interests, skills, and college preferences.

  • Participate in extracurricular activities – volunteer/job/academic programs/mentorships/other.


Senior Year


  • Attend college fairs

  • Continue to update checklist and calendar.

  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT if you didn’t take it as a junior or if you aren’t satisfied with your score(s) - (remember that your counselor can help you with fee waivers).

  • Continue to take a look at college applications and consider all of the different pieces of information you will need to compile.

  • Make an appointment with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements. If you’re ahead of schedule, consider taking courses at a local university or community college to get a jump start on college credit.

  • Take every opportunity to get to know colleges: Meet with college representatives who visit ATC, attending local college fairs, visit campuses (if possible).

  • Narrow down your list of colleges and begin to consider “safe,” “reach,” and “realistic” schools.

  • Make sure you have the application and financial aid information for each school. Find out if you qualify for any scholarships at these schools.

  • Some schools require the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. Ask the colleges for their deadlines. You can register as early as September. See your guidance counselor about fee waivers. By filling out one form, you can also apply online for non-federal financial aid from almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs. Visit




  • Some colleges will have deadlines as early as this month. These would include rolling admission, priority, early decision, and early action deadlines.

  • If you cannot afford the application fees that many colleges charge, ask your counselor to help you request a fee waiver.

  • Finalize your college essay. Many schools will require that you submit at least one essay with your application.

  • Request personal recommendations from teachers, school counselors, or employers.

  • Research scholarships possibilities. Ask your counselor, your colleges, and your religious and civic groups about scholarship opportunities. You should NEVER pay for scholarship information. Refer to resource list.




  • Due this month - early decision or early action applications. Have a parent, teacher, counselor, or other adult review the application before it is submitted.

  • Attend Financial Aid night. Every college will require a copy of your transcript from your high school. Please fill out a form located outside of Lisa Morris’ door.

  • Make sure testing companies ( and have sent your scores directly to the colleges to which you are applying.

  • The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will be available this month, but cannot be completed before January 1. This is the online form you will complete to find out what government financial aid you are eligible to receive. Visitfafsa.ed.govto complete.

  • Apply for all scholarships you may be eligible for.

  • Be aware of the negative effects of Senioritis and work to suppress Senioritis. Work that pre-frontal cortex!




  • Begin to organize regular decision applications and financial aid forms - due in January and/or February (generally).

  • Register for the January SAT (if needed).




  • Attend FAFSA night

  • Many popular and selective colleges will have application deadlines as early as January 1. Others have deadlines later in January and February. Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork.

  • If necessary, register for the February ACT.

    • Request 1st semester transcripts to schools where you applied.

    • At the end of the school year, you will need to request your final transcripts to the college you will attend.

  • It is time to file the FAFSA (no later than Feb 1). The sooner you complete it, the sooner you will have an idea of your financial aid options. Watch the mail (email too) for your Student Aid Report (SAR)—it should arrive four weeks after the FAFSA is filed.




  • While most of your applications will be complete and you are waiting to receive admission decisions,don’t slack in the classroom. The college that you do attend will want to see your second semestertranscript. No Senioritis! Work that pre-frontal cortex!

  • Acceptance letters and financial aid offers will start to arrive. Review your acceptances, compare financial aid packages, and visit your final choices (if possible), especially if you haven’t already.

  • Continue to apply for scholarships.

  • Prepare to take AP exams.




  • Take AP exams.

  • May 1 is usually the date when the college you plan to attend requires a commitment and deposit. When you’ve made your college decision, notify your counselor and the colleges. Send in your deposit by deadline. If you’ve been offered financial aid, accept the offer and follow the instructions given. Also notify schools you will not attend of your decision.

  • Make sure that you have requested that your final transcript be sent to the school you will be attending.

  • If you are “wait listed” by a college you really want to attend, visit, call and write the admission office to make your interest clear. Ask how you can strengthen your application.




  • Take time to enjoy your summer! Take stock in all that you have accomplished! It has been a long journey!

  • Getting a summer job can help pay some of your college expenses and give you some career preparation.

  • Make a list of what you will need to take with you for your dorm room. Visit your college’s Web site and search under ‘Housing’ or ‘Residence Life’ for further information.

  • Some colleges will offer a summer orientation/registration. Make sure to attend in order to meet fellow students and other important people on campus and to familiarize yourself with your new school. This is often the time you sign up for your fall courses.