- Map out a testing schedule, including the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT. Pick the test dates that will work with your schedule, taking into account family events, extracurricular activities, and holidays.
- Meet with your guidance counselor to review your course plan for the school year and to plan your senior schedule.
- Begin to establish criteria for the college search: Are you interested in a small rural college or a large urban campus? Visit some local colleges to learn what you do and don’t like.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT. Scores are important, as they are used to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Competition and the National Achievement program.
- Contact the colleges you are interested in to find out if they prefer the ACT or the SAT.
- Visit schools that interest you. Call ahead and ask for appointments with the departments of financial aid and admissions, academic advisors, professors, and students.
- Consider registering for the May and June SAT and ACT test dates; it’s not too early to start testing.
- Re-evaluate your list of potential schools and eliminate those that no longer interest you.
- Begin searching for financial aid.
- Register for the fall ACT and/or SAT test dates as needed.
- Request letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, and other adults who are familiar with your accomplishments.
- Meet with your guidance counselor to review your final list of colleges.
- Make sure you have all the applications required for financial aid and admission, and make a list of deadlines.
- Now is the time to file early decision applications if you have made a decision.
- Have official test scores sent by the testing agency to the colleges on your short list.
- Start writing and editing your application essays.
- Complete and submit your college applications (make copies before mailing, or save copies of applications filed electronically).
- Schedule college admission interviews, if needed.
- File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after January 1 as possible. File online at www.fafsa.ed.gov or request a paper form by calling (800) 4-FED-AID (433-3243).
- Request that your school send your grade reports/transcripts to the colleges you applied to.
- Contact the colleges and confirm that all application materials (transcripts, recommendations, and financial aid forms) have been received.
- Be on the lookout for your Student Aid Report (SAR) after completing the FAFSA. Now’s your chance to make any corrections, if needed.
- Finish up any outstanding scholarship applications.
- Review acceptances and compare financial aid packages.
- By May 1, you should decide which college you will attend and notify other prospective colleges that you have selected another school.
- If your first-choice college placed you on a waiting list, you should let the admissions staff know that you are still interested in attending.
- Ask your counselor to forward your final transcript to the college.
- Contact the college and determine when fees are due for tuition and room and board.