12th Grade/Senior Year: College Countdown - Stay Organized!
(presented by SUNY - click here for actual page)
Prior to your senior year
- Begin taking the SAT II subject tests if your potential colleges require them and you have finished the curriculum which would help you score well.
- Narrow your list of colleges to 4 to 8. Make sure these are a right match for you. Just because a relative attended a particular college or university, doesn’t mean it is a good fit for you.
- Visit the three schools at the top of your list (be sure to include SUNY). Schedule your visit in conjunction with a family vacation or when colleges are hosting events. Visiting when classes are in session will give you an opportunity to see the campus in “full swing” and talk with current students.
- Decide whether you’ll apply as an Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA) candidate and begin preparing your application for admission. These deadlines are typically in early to mid-November of your senior year.
- Compose rough drafts of essays and ask your family, friends, and teachers to review your essays for grammar, punctuation, readability, and content.
- Contact coaches, if applicable, and include your high school sports schedule and game tapes. Be sure to tell them why you are interested in their program and school.
- Have a strong senior year . . . take at least four academic courses and earn good grades. Colleges may ask to review your mid-year grades. Your college of choice will see your final grades –so make your entire senior year count!
- Review your high school transcript in mid-September to be sure it is accurate.
- Plan ahead! This is a busy time for your school counseling office. Provide your counselor with a list of schools to which you intend to apply and give him/her a list of dates for letters, forms, etc.
- Identify teachers and counselors from whom you will ask for letters of recommendation. Give serious consideration to teachers who can speak to the rigor of your curriculum and your potential for success.
- Discuss essay topics with your teachers and/or counselor. If you haven’t done so already, write a first draft of your college essay. Visit the College Board for tips on writing your essay.
- Organize! Create a folder for each college to which you are applying and make special note of deadlines. Also create separate folders for tests you’ve taken or plan to take, financial aid forms and fee waivers.
- Inquire about dates (and pre-registration dates) for upcoming standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT and AP. If you and your family are experiencing money issues, ask your counselor about a fee waiver.
- Create a resume which includes your high school, graduation date, grade point average, class rank, standardized test scores, special courses taken, academic honors and awards, activities (including athletics, leadership, community service, and work), interests and major goals. Keep your resume brief . . . one to two pages maximum.
- Attend upcoming college fairs - most will occur in September, October and November.
- Keep your counselor updated about where you’ve applied for admission and let him/her know how you’ve applied (Web, Common Application, paper, etc.).
- Remember to print/photocopy your entire application before submitting it for review.
- Follow-up with your counselor and/or teachers to ensure that your transcript and letters of recommendation have been sent.
- Contact colleges regarding support services if you’ve a learning or physical disability.
- Continue to investigate scholarship opportunities. Start here to find scholarships.
- Plan on playing a sport? Be sure to file the proper paperwork with the NCAA Clearinghouse - see your coach, athletic director or counselor for assistance.
- Establish a back-up plan if you’ve applied for Early Decision or Early Action admission and were not offered admission. Complete - but do not send - your back-up applications for admission until you’ve heard from your Early Decision or Early Action college.
- Attend area financial aid programs or workshops.
- Focus on financial aid and enlist the assistance of your parents/family members. For each college on your list, calculate the total cost of a year (two semesters).
- Forward college application forms to your counselor for completion of information about your grade point average and class rank.
- Give your counselor enough time for completing forms and sending transcripts for scholarships for which you are applying.
- Ask your counselor to send mid-year grades to colleges to which you’ve applied.
- Practice your college interview skills by participating in a mock interview. Ask your counselor for information about what to expect from an interview. There is a wealth of information available on the Internet too.
- Stay focused and keep studying.
- Ask your parents/family members to complete their tax return as soon as possible - this is important as federal financial aid and most scholarships work on a first-come first-served basis. If your family receives assistance from government social services, make sure your caseworker knows that a copy of your family’s financial budget will be needed in January. Go here to get an early start on the financial aid process.
- Register for May AP exams.
- Attend area financial aid programs or workshops.
- Look for an admission decision from each college or university where you completed an application.
- Make photocopies of all acceptance, waitlist and denial letters AND scholarship letters/awards you’ve received and give to your counselor. These copies will help your counselor know from whom you’ve heard and will enable him/her to compile yearly school profile statistics.
- Maintain good senior year grades. Failure to do so may result in your acceptance offer(s) being rescinded.
- Review financial aid and scholarship offers you’ve received. If you have questions, call offices directly.
- Make your college decision by May 1. Notify the colleges you won’t be attending so other students who were placed on waiting lists can be admitted.
- Send your enrollment deposit (if required).
- Notify your guidance counselor of your college decision and request that a final transcript to be sent to that college.
- Notify your counselor and those who’ve awarded you a scholarship (for scholarship recipients) about where you’ll attend as most will send a scholarship check directly to the college you plan to attend.
- Ask your counselor to send your final transcript to the NCAA Clearinghouse (for athletes playing intercollegiate sports).
- Ask your counselor to send your final transcript to your college choice and provide him/her with an addressed stamped envelope.