Between now and the end of January, almost everything you need to do to get accepted at colleges will take place. This is it! After so many years of planning, studying, taking SAT, ACT, Subject and AP tests and engaging in activities, all of your hard work will be put to the test in your application forms.
Because there is so much to do, many students (and parents) worry themselves sick about getting every last piece in and on time. In order to assuage people's anxiety a bit, here is a list of things rising seniors need to do between June and the end of January. On my website, I offer a downloadable, easy-to-complete Master Admissions Checklist that offers boxes to check off for each college on your list.
• Activities Resume
If you haven't already, complete your activities resume.
• Courses and Grades
Ace your finals!
• College List
Have your college list narrowed down to the 10-20 colleges you like best. Arrange them into Reach, Good Chance and Pretty Sure categories (based on your SAT/ACT scores compared to successful applicants at the colleges and also their acceptance rates.) Up-to-date information about most well known colleges' test scores, acceptance rates, number of students and whether they accept The Common Application can be found on my information is available on the Application Information section of my website.
• College Visits
Work with your parents to set up a schedule to visit colleges during the summer. Identify dates; call for interview appointments; research travel arrangements.
Upgrade your email systems or change to Gmail, Yahoo, cable or DSL service so that you can make full use of college on-line applications. A number of colleges and The Common Application warn against using AOL and sometimes even Hotmail. Also download the latest version of Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, the browsers that many college applications recommend. For MAC owners, Safari does not work for some college applications; I suggest that you download Firefox.
• Application Filing System
Now is the time to buy a file box, put together your admissions application filing system, and gather/purchase all the materials you need to complete the applications.
• College List
Continue updating your college list and researching colleges that interest you by reading about them in The Fiske and other guides, going onto college websites, and visiting the colleges.
• College Visits
Make plans to visit colleges on your list during the end of summer or fall.
• Contact With Colleges
If you haven't done it before, July is a good time to make contact with the colleges on your list to let them know you are interested in them. For ideas about how to do that, go to my website Relationship with Colleges section.
• Essay Writing
Particularly for students who compete in a fall sport, drama performance or other very time-consuming activity, this is a good time to use your resume to begin brainstorming ideas for the Common Application essays.
• Learning Disabled Students
Make sure that your educational testing is up-to-date (within three years of the time you apply to colleges).
• Recruited Athletes
Complete the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse form if you plan to play Division I or II college sports.
Determine which of the colleges on your list you want to apply to first. If possible, complete at least one application before school starts. What this means is filling out the application, finding a focus, brainstorming ideas for the essay questions and then writing drafts, having someone you trust proofread your application and edit your essays.
Since the Common Application is available on August 1, determine which colleges on your list accept the Common App. Download and print the application, as well as the supplemental application forms for each college.
Go to the admissions section of each non-Common App college website to which you plan to apply to see if their application is available on-line. If yes, download and print a copy.
Organize a Due Date grid for all of your colleges. [do you have an example you can link to?]
• College List
Your college list needs to be finalized by the middle of this month.
• College Interviews
To assure yourself of an interview during fall semester, late summer is the best time to call admissions offices for interview appointments. Some colleges require that you complete their application before you are offered an interview. Ask if you can interview with the admissions representative assigned to your school.
• Early Action/Decision
Decide whether or not you want to apply early to a college/s
• Take some time to enjoy the rest of your summer.
Taking into consideration your schoolwork, sports and activities, block out time each week from now until December to work on applications.
Note application/financial and other due dates on your hard copy or computer calendar so that you can work out a schedule to complete all on time.
√ College Admissions Offices/Representatives
Make final arrangements for any fall college interview trips.
Meet any college representatives of colleges on your list that come to your high school for information sessions. Don't forget to follow up with an email thank you note.
Attend any college information sessions in your city.
Make arrangements for alumni interviews in your hometown.
√ Completing the Applications
Gather, download and print applications for your final college list. Check the Common Application website first and then individual college websites.
Identify essay questions for all applications and put them on an essay grid to see how the questions might overlap.
Decide on a focus for your applications; i.e., what you do you want admissions readers to "get" about you?
Begin brainstorming ideas for essay questions that reveal something about who you really are as a student and person. Use personal stories and your activities resume to come up with these ideas.
√ Early Applications
For those colleges you've decided to apply early, check the early application deadlines, many of which are at the end of October/first of November.
Begin filling out any rolling admissions applications, early and/or first choice college applications.
Give your high school counselor, teachers and/or other recommenders materials for early applications including a list of the early colleges and their respective due dates, and activities resume. Find out if your school and/or teachers and counselor will be using on-line recommendation forms.
√ Filing System
Create a file for each of the colleges to which you plan to apply.
√ Letters Of Recommendation Packages
Put together recommendation packages and give them to your high school counselor, teachers and/or other recommenders materials for early applications.
√ High School Counselor
If you haven't already, meet with your high school counselor to go over your college list. Review your transcript and activities resume to make sure that they are accurate and complete.
If you haven't already, meet with special teachers to ask them to fill out the teachers recommendation forms.
√ Other Recommenders
Ask people who know something special about you (other than teachers and the school counselor) to write recommendations.
Sign up for any SAT, ACT, or Subject Tests that still need to be taken.
Complete your early, rolling or first choice school applications and mail/email them in time to meet the college deadlines. Most early deadlines are at the end of October, beginning of November.
Don't forget to print or photocopy and save a copy of everything that you send colleges.
File all admissions applications, test scores, etc. in your filing system. Don't throw anything away!
Make sure that your high school counselor, teachers and other recommenders send off their recommendation packages for your early, rolling applications.
Have test scores sent by College Board or ACT to the colleges to which you are sending early applications.
• College Admissions Offices/Representatives
Make arrangements for any on-site or alumni interviews offered by colleges to which you are applying early.
Meet any college rep of colleges on your list that comes to your high school for an information session. Don't forget to send a follow-up thank you note.
Attend any city meeting of colleges on your list.
Remembering that many colleges pay close attention to first semester, sometimes even quarter grades, keep your grades as high as you can.
Continue completing and mailing/email top-choice college applications, recycling essays from applications already completed.
Have test scores sent by College Board or ACT to the colleges to which you are sending applications.
Don't forget to print or photocopy and file everything that you send colleges.
• Financial Aid
Get the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE financial aid forms from your high school counselor or download them off the FAFSA or CSS Profile websites. Apply for your online PIN numbers.
Complete and submit online all applications by the end of the month, but preferably before the end of school. It will be very useful to have all admissions tasks done by New Years.
Don't forget to print or photocopy all pages of your applications before emailing or send them.
Have your transcript sent to each college.
• Follow-up With Colleges
If you have not yet been contacted by colleges whose applications you have completed regarding interviews, call the admissions offices to inquire how/when they will take place.
Make sure that your high school counselor has completed all of the School Report forms. And make sure that your teachers and other recommenders have sent in their respective forms and letters.
• Early Applications
Students with Early Decision acceptances need to say yes to that one school. Withdraw applications to other colleges.
For students who applied Early Action and/or Regular Admission, give your high school counselor copies of the Midyear Report forms. Provide a stamped, addressed envelope for each Midyear Report.
Complete and mail any last minute regular-admission applications.
• Financial Aid
Fill out and send FAFSA and PROFILE financial aids forms.
Complete individual college financial aid forms.
• Follow-up With Colleges
Call each college on your list to see if they have received all of the required application materials. If the answer is yes, say thank you. If the answer is no, find out what is missing and immediately act to get the missing material to the college.
For colleges that provide application information on-line, check the respective websites to make sure they have received all of your materials. Follow-through appropriately.
Update colleges with any new information, including recent awards, athletic achievements, volunteer efforts, etc. This is particularly important for students deferred for Early Decision, or Early Action Single Choice applications.