Applying to college can seem and feel like a daunting process. You might not even know where and how to start! Here are some things for you to know and that might help you be prepared in applying for college! Remember that everyone’s timeline, process, and deadlines can look different depending on the circumstances of the student.
This process will be so much better if you start early! We recommend starting as soon as you can, but by the beginning of your junior year should be the latest you begin this process! Check out some tips below!
Fall Junior Year
- Begin to look at majors and careers that interest you.
- When you have an idea of what you want to major in or your career, start looking at colleges.
- To help you narrow down a choice for college, make a list of must-haves for the school you want to attend. For example, the list should include things like location, cost of attendance, majors offered, etc.
- Take the ACT and/or SAT
Spring Junior Year
- Visit colleges you are interested in attending. Make a campus visit and get a tour to see what the college has to offer for you and if it is the best fit school for you! Consider spring break as a time to visit colleges.
- Have a draft of your personal statements completed and look at some college essay sample prompts to prepare answers for them.
- Take the ACT and/or SAT
Summer between Junior and Senior Year
- Create a list of people you want to contact for letters of recommendation for college applications. Some institutions require you get two to three letters of recommendation for your application. Some schools are specific in who you need a letter from, for example, from teachers, academic counselors, mentors, etc. so be sure to know who you have to get letters from! Take a look at tips for more about this part of your application!
- Take a look at your essay drafts, start finalizing them more so that when fall comes around, you can easily tweak and edit sentences around to fit the essay part of the applications.
- Now since it is summer, you have lots of time to look at scholarships! Make a list of scholarships you are eligible for and make sure you fit the requirements. Some of these scholarships might not be open for applications yet, but visit their website to see if their essay or requirements are the same every year and get a head start on it!
Fall Senior Year
- First month of school: contact the list of people you want to write you a letter of recommendation. Be courteous and notify them earlier so that they can write you the best letter that reflects who you are. We recommend asking 6 weeks or even two months in advance. The latest you want to ask someone to write you a letter of recommendation should be one month prior to the due date of the application.
- Take your final ACT or SAT exams
- Submit your college applications. College application deadlines are around October, November, and December.
- Apply and submit scholarship applications.
- Fill out and submit the FAFSA, it opens October 1st.
Spring Senior Year
- If applicable, submit fall transcripts to colleges you applied to (some require this)
- Watch out for notification of verification for FAFSA
- Keep an eye out for acceptance/denial letters from the colleges you applied to
- When you get accepted letters back from colleges, decide which school you want to attend. Be sure to submit required materials to accept your admission to the college such as new student orientation fee/deposit to “save your spot”.
- Accept and/or decline grants, scholarships, loans on award package.
- Figure out housing plans and transportation to your college
- Take placement tests.
- Sign up for orientation. This is where you will register for your first college courses for the fall semester.
- When asking for a letter of recommendation from someone, you are really asking for a favor! It is appropriate and courteous to give an envelope pre-stamped and addressed to the school already. This makes it super easy for your writer to write a letter and will leave a great impression and experience for them in doing this for you! If the person has to submit this letter electronically, make sure you give them the instructions of how to do that clearly via email. If the person you have asked have not responded to you about whether they can write you a letter or not, it is not rude to remind them and check in with them to see if they can still write this letter for you. If they can no longer write you a letter, ask someone else. This is why it is so important to ask early and have a list of back-ups. After the person has written a letter for recommendation for you, make sure to send a thank you note to them!
- Once you start you senior year, you will get super busy with applying to colleges, so make sure to set reminders of when college and scholarship applications are due. You can either do this on your phone, on a physical calendar, or on a planner.