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Check List for Seniors


  • Write your essays.  Rewrite.  Repeat.

Hopefully, you are well into the essay development process by now. Make sure that you're clear about how many essays you will need to write and their specific prompts.  You may not have finalized your college list just yet, but use it to estimate the essay development ahead of you.


  • Visit.

Attend sessions with visits reps from schools you're interested in, attend college fairs, and take tours of local colleges.  If possible, visit more distant campuses, as well.

  • Finalize your list.

By now your college list should be taking shape.  Research each school and make sure that you have a good reason for wanting to attend any college that ends up on your list.


  • Register for SAT or ACT testing.

Be sure to sign up early for any additional testing you want to do.  Also, check the colleges you're interested in to find out if they require or recommend SAT subject tests.  Check your schools to see which do superscoring.


  • Know the deadlines.

Keep a list of application deadlines for each school you're planning to apply to (Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision, as well as FAFSA and CSS).  In addition, make note of the last SAT/ACT test date each school will accept.


  • Set up your website accounts.

This includes college sites (Cal States and University of California, Common App), as well as FAFSA and CSS.  Be sure to be consistent with the spelling of names and addresses on all accounts.


  • Get recs.

After determining which schools require recommendations, how many, and from whom, start asking for them.  Remember that teachers and counselors will be asked to write a lot of these, so try to get to the front of the line.  Provide anyone you ask with bullet points to remind them of memorable moments you had with them, your achievements, and a general idea of your plans for the future.


  • Gather your app materials.

Have what you need at your fingertips when you fill out your applications:  a final transcript through junior year, a resume of your extracurriculars/honors/enrichment, relevant numbers including social security and parent contact info.


  • Talk taxes.

Alert your parents to complete their taxes as early as possible after January 1 in order to file for financial aid.

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