Fall Semester Timeline for College Bound High School Seniors

Summer is officially over and your final fall semester of high school is in full swing. There is a lot of anticipation as you enter your last year of high school, and to put it lightly, you have a lot on your plate. Between keeping up with your coursework, extracurricular activities and preparing for college admissions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

To help you organize all your tasks and college prep responsibilities, we have put together a fall semester guide for high school seniors.

Finalize your List of Colleges
Based on your college visits during the summer, carve out some time to narrow down your top colleges and also a list of your “safety net” schools. During this time you may also continue to visit colleges. College application deadlines will be approaching quickly, so you want to seriously consider which schools you will be applying to.

Outline Important Deadlines
This semester in particular has a lot of moving parts. To ensure that you don’t miss any important details, create a calendar encompassing all college application due dates and reminders. For example important deadlines may be: when to register for the SAT, when to take the SAT, when your college applications are due, a check-in date regarding your recommendation letters, and scholarship application due dates.

Take and/or Re-take Standardized Tests
Fall is your last opportunity to take or retake any standardized tests such as SAT, ACT, or SAT subject tests. Both the SAT and ACT tests are administered in October, and you may have another opportunity to retake these tests in November, December, and lastly in January. Two things to keep in mind is registering on time to take any standardized test, and make sure you request either online or by mail that your test scores be sent to the colleges of your choice.

Work on Completing College Applications
If you are planning to apply to any colleges as an early action candidate, you want to use this time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, because of you only weeks away from your submission deadline. Be sure you have all items – test scores, recommendation letters, application essays and transcripts ready to go.

For those of you applying to college as a regular decision candidate, take this time to complete and finish your college applications. You should plan to have all your submission items, as stated above, ready to go before winter break.

Check-in with Recommenders
By this time, you should have already asked a handful of individuals to provide recommendation letters. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to approach your teachers, coaches and whomever as soon as possible.  Give them the college recommendation forms along with an addressed and stamped envelope. Also, be sure to add your name and college of choice to each recommendation form. You want to make it a simple process for your recommender, so they can focus on what really counts – writing about your talents and abilities.

Stay on top of your Senior Year Academics and School Commitments
As you get busier managing your college applications, it may be easy to take a back seat to your senior year curriculum or extracurricular commitments. But don’t be so sure, colleges look at what you have done during your senior year as well. Focus on finishing strong in your coursework and commitments.

Work on Scholarships
We understand between taking the SATs, finishing college applications and maintaining your extracurricular commitments, applying to scholarships is the last thing you want to do. However, it is important that you set aside a little time each week to research and apply for scholarships. Financial aid is equally as important as the college itself. Use this guide about how to apply for scholarships as a tool to help you find potential aid. Reach out to the colleges you are applying to about what resources are available and ask your counselor what types of scholarships you qualify for.

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