College Planning Timeline
In reality, most high school seniors rush their college applications during the last two months of the application deadline. But ideally, your college application process should start in your junior year. The following is general timeline for your successful journey to the college your dreams.
1. Be sure you are involved in one or two extracurricular activities.
2. Register for and take the PSAT.
3. Strive to get the best grades you can.
1. Get involved in a community service activity.
2. Begin to read newspapers and a weekly news magazine. Being informed about
current events will help you both with college admissions and scholarship essays and with
3. Keep your grades up!
4. Check the National Association for College Admissions Counseling Website for schedules
and locations of college fairs.
1. Register for the ACT or SAT.
2. Meet with your school counselor to discuss college choices.
3. Develop a preliminary list of 15 to 20 colleges and universities and search for information on
4. Start scheduling campus visits and interviews.
5. Plan a challenging schedule of classes for your senior year.
6. Think about which teachers you will ask to write recommendations.
7. Structure your summer plans to include advanced academic work, travel, volunteer work, or
1. Find out which of the colleges you'd like to apply to accept the Common Application. Write
to any colleges on your list that do not accept the Common Application to request
application forms or check out the school websites for online application options.
2. Begin working on your application essays.
1. If you are going to re-take the ACT, SAT I, and/or SAT II, and you did not take them in the spring, register now.
2. Check with your school counselor to see if any college representatives will be visiting your
high school or your community this fall.
3. Ask appropriate teachers if they would write recommendations for you.
4. Meet with your counselor to compile your final list of colleges.
5. Begin filling out college applications for your final list of colleges. Many colleges have
online applications that you can access right from the college website.
6. Write your college admissions essays. These can really differentiate you from the other
7. Photocopy or print extra copies of your applications to use as a backup.
8. Be sure that you have requested your ACT Assessment and SAT scores to be sent to your
colleges of choice.
9. Don't be late! Keep track of all deadlines for transcripts, recommendations, financial aid,
1. Meet with your counselor to verify that all is in order and that transcripts
are out to colleges.
2. If you are applying for financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA) and PROFILE. Check out our FAFSA and PROFILE tips and Financial Aid
Calendar. You can also get information on the FAFSA and fill out the form online at
www.fafsa.ed.gov or through your school counseling office. The sooner you apply for
financial aid, the better your chances. You can start submitting the FAFSA after January 1
the year you will attend college.
3. If applicable, let colleges know of any new honors or accomplishments that were not in your
1. Be sure you have received a FAFSA acknowledgment.
2. Receive acceptance letters.
3. Go back to visit one or two of your top-choice colleges.
4. Review the financial aid offers you receive.
5. Notify your college of choice that you have accepted its offer by May 1.
6. Notify the colleges you have chosen not to attend of your decision.