College Planning Timeline

12th Grade
All 12th grade planning steps are shown.
College Planning steps are highlighted.

Fall Semester
Keep studying!
You want to avoid "senioritis" — a drop in motivation and, consequently, grades, that is sometimes experienced by seniors.
Talk to your counselor about possibilities for concurrent enrollment (taking college-credit courses while you're still in high school).
Save your money!
It's a good idea to start planning for those unexpected costs of college.
Some colleges require the CSS/PROFILE, a supplemental financial aid form, in addition to the FAFSA.
Find out if your schools will need this.
September:
Check your transcripts to make sure you have all the credits you need to get into the colleges that interest you.
Find out from the colleges whether or not they need official copies of your transcripts (these are sent directly from your school).
Register for the October/November SAT I, SAT II and ACT tests if you plan to take them.
Take another look at your list of colleges, and make sure they still satisfy your requirements.
It's not uncommon for students' goals to change.
Make sure you meet the requirements (including any transcript requirements) for all the colleges to which you want to apply.
Double-check the deadlines.
Give any recommendation forms to the appropriate teachers or counselors with stamped, college-addressed envelopes, making certain that your portions of the forms are filled out completely and accurately.
Most early decision and early action applications are due between October 1 and November 1.
Keep this in mind if you intend to take advantage of these options, and remember to request that your high school send your official transcripts to the college on time.
October:
Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between October 1 and June 30th.
Start it now at: fafsa.gov.
Check for other financial aid options.
In order to be considered for financial aid, you will need to submit a FAFSA, even if you have not yet been notified of your acceptance to the college(s) to which you applied.
Make a final list of schools that interest you and keep a file of deadlines and required admission items for each school.
Many students like to have a "dream school" and a "safety school" as well as two or three others.
Take the SAT or ACT tests. Have the official scores sent by the testing agency to the colleges or universities that have made your final list of schools.
Register for December or January SAT I or SAT II tests, if necessary.
Get started on any essays to be included with your applications.
Give your essays to others (teachers, parents, friends) for feedback.
November:
Submit your college admission applications.
Be sure to check them over thoroughly! Having someone else review your application with you can help you catch any errors.
If you completed the FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within four weeks.
Make the necessary corrections and return it to the FAFSA processor.
Be sure to consult with your school counselor about scholarship opportunities.
Not all scholarships are for top students and athletes. There may be a perfect scholarship for you — it's worth doing a little research.
Work on your scholarship applications, and mail according to deadlines.
Check with the financial aid office of schools you are applying to for specific information on scholarships and costs for tuition, fees, room and board, and any additional financial aid info they require.
December:
Watch your mailbox if you submitted an early decision application.
Early decision replies usually arrive between December 1 and 31. If you do get an acceptance, you should withdraw any other applications.
If you haven't already done so, make sure your official test scores are being sent to the colleges to which you are applying.
Schedule any remaining required interviews.
Start thinking about how you're going to spend your summer. Summer is a great time to earn extra money and gain work experience.
Ask your counselor about internships, and start researching the summer job market in your area.
Spring Semester
January:
If you don't already have a good computer, investigate purchasing one for college.
You or your parents can subsidize the cost of a computer for college in your student loans.
Request that your high school send your official transcripts to the colleges to which you are applying.
Make sure your parents have completed their income tax forms in anticipation of the financial aid applications.
If you have to file taxes this year, do it as soon as possible. You'll need to do this for any financial aid forms.
Contact the admissions office of the colleges to which you have applied to make sure that your information has been received, and that they have everything they need from you.
Keep an eye out for financial aid workshops and seminars, for both you and your parents.
There is a lot of help out there when you're looking for info on financial aid.
February:
Complete your scholarship applications.
Contact the financial aid office of the colleges to which you have applied to make sure your information has been received, and that they have everything they need from you.
March - April:
You will probably hear from the colleges as to whether or not you are accepted by April 15.
Compare your acceptance letters, financial aid and scholarship offers.
These are all important things to consider when choosing a college.
When you choose a college that has accepted you, you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit for freshman tuition.
This should ensure your place in the entering freshman class.
May:
Take AP exams for any AP subjects you studied in high school.
Decision time!
You should decide on a college by May 1. Notify that school by mailing your commitment deposit check. Many schools require that your notification letter be postmarked by this date.
If you were placed on a waiting list for a particular college and have decided to wait for an opening, contact that college and let them know you are still very interested.
June:
Have your school send your final transcripts to the college you will be attending.
Contact your college to determine when fees for tuition, room and board are due, and how much they will cost.
Summer After Senior Year
Participate in any summer orientation programs for incoming freshmen.
Now that you know you will be attending college in the fall, it is a good idea to make sure you have student health insurance in case of any emergencies.