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Senior Year Checklist for Applying to College

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From applying to colleges to a heavy courseload, you have so many tasks and activities on your plate as a high school senior. To make sure your senior year will be successful, use our senior year checklist to help you manage the demands of senior year while applying to college.

Things to Do Before Senior Year to Prepare for College Applications

Here are some items to check off your list before you start senior year:

  • Determine a desired major, as nearly all colleges will ask you why you have selected a particular major in the school’s supplemental essays.
  • Start creating a tentative list of colleges that you want to attend.
  • Get information about those colleges by doing online research, attending college fairs and college nights (virtual or in-person), and speaking with representatives from colleges who come to your school.
  • Make sure to keep your resume current throughout your senior year.
  • Find out about college scholarships and how to apply for them.
  • Explore financial aid options.
  • Schedule tours and information sessions with your preferred colleges and arrange to visit these schools.
  • Start writing your college application essays and showing them to your teachers for feedback.
  • Request two letters of recommendation from your junior year teachers.
  • Many schools also appreciate additional letters submitted through the Common App from coaches, academic advisors, mentors, and/or employers.
  • Make sure that you have already taken the SAT or ACT or that your schools are test-optional and you’ve decided to apply as a test-optional applicant.

Checklist for High School Senior Year

Below is a list of things you need to do in different seasons of your senior year in high school:

College Checklist for Fall of Senior Year

  • Narrow down and finalize your college list by using all of the information you’ve gathered from your research, college visits, and interviews. Evaluate whether it makes sense to apply Early Decision or Early Action to your top choice school. In particular, applying Early Decision can significantly improve your chances of admission.
  • Make sure to maintain good grades and stay actively involved in extracurricular activities.
  • Strongly consider taking the SAT or ACT again to try to improve your scores.
  • Create a calendar that tracks the application deadlines for college admission, scholarship applications, and financial aid.
  • Start writing the final draft of your Common App Activities section and have a traditional resume, which many colleges also request.
  • Search for appropriate scholarship opportunities.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile, preferably by the beginning of October (your parents will need to do this).
  • Make sure you complete the application forms for the colleges that interest you, preferably before winter break to leave enough time before the deadlines to gather materials and double-check each application.
  • After submitting your college applications, use the individual college portals to make sure the schools have received all of the materials you’ve submitted, including application forms, test scores, high school transcripts and letters of recommendation.

College To Do List for Winter of Senior Year

  • Remember to keep working hard to get good grades.
  • Check in on the status of your college applications and find out if the colleges need any other information, using each college’s application portal.
  • It may be a good idea for you to take the SAT or ACT again if you can still submit a new, higher test score to colleges (if you are not applying as test-optional).
  • Complete any remaining college applications as necessary.
  • Discuss the costs of attending your preferred colleges with your family.
  • Continue looking for scholarships during the holiday break.
  • Consider getting a part-time job to save money and gain some professional experience.

College Application Checklist for Spring of Senior Year

  • Continue saving money for college if you’re working part-time.
  • Make sure you’re getting good grades and preparing for your final exams, AP tests, etc.
  • Regularly check your inbox in March or April to see if there are notifications from colleges.
  • Meet with your parents to talk about college finances and financial aid options and choose the right financial aid packages, preferably debt-free ones.
  • Now is the fun part! Choose a college if you’re accepted to more than one college, and let all of the colleges know your decision by May 1st.
  • Write a letter to the college’s admissions team to strengthen your case if you’re waitlisted for college admission.
  • Complete all of the enrollment paperwork for your chosen college, including housing arrangements and orientation session forms.
  • Start doing research on private student loans from banks or credit unions in case your  applications for scholarship and financial aid are rejected.
  • Make sure you turn in all your high school assignments so that you can finish your classes strong.
  • Even though you are nearing the end of your high school career, do your best on your final exams!
  • Send your final transcript to your chosen college to maintain admission status.
  • Congratulations on receiving your official high school diploma! You did it!

College Checklist for Summer After Senior Year

  • Continue working and saving money to pay for your future college expenses.
  • Look out for college admission notifications if they haven’t arrived yet.
  • Keep applying for scholarships as deadlines can go all the way to August.
  • Continue researching student loans if necessary, and start narrowing down your options.
  • Begin shopping for things you’ll need in college, such as books, supplies, dorm essentials, tech products, and clothes.
  • Make sure you attend the freshman orientation at your college to get to know the campus and your fellow students before school begins.
  • Move into your student accommodation and meet your new roommate.
  • Review your course options and schedule your classes with your college advisor.
  • Get ready for a new life in college and this unforgettable chapter in your life!

As you can see, you  will be spending a large part of your senior year in high school applying to colleges and trying to get accepted. If you need advice and help to increase your chances of getting accepted to your  preferred college, get in touch with the knowledgeable and friendly college admissions counseling team at Spark Admissions. Contact us today to get a free consultation.

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