College Application Timeline
Here’s a quick overview of the fall of your senior year in high school — the key application timeline.
Assuming you have completed all your college research during your junior year of high school, here’s a quick rundown of the most critical of times — the fall of your senior year in high school.
August & September: A great time to request or download copies of college applications and/or decide whether you’re going to use the Common Application. With application deadlines in hand, compile a list of the day dates ahead. If you have one school that is your clear favorite — and you want to apply for an early decision — start working on that application now, including lining up recommendations and drafting essays, and requesting official high school transcripts. If there is a desire to achieve a higher score, now is the time to retake the SAT or ACT.
October & November: If you’re still undecided or have not completed all your campus visits, do so now. Many colleges have a fall preview day during a fall weekend. It’s also the time to work on applications for regular admissions — including lining up recommendations and drafting essays, and requesting official high school transcripts. Now is also a good time to begin researching independent scholarships and grants that you might be eligible for.
December & January: Time to complete all those applications, but before you send them off (whether electronically or by mail), make copies of all your materials. As soon as you can in January, complete both the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the FAFSA — both key elements to obtaining various types of financial aid.
For more specifics on your senior year timetable, read this Quintessential Careers article: College-Bound High School Senior Planning Calendar.
Need help with any of the terms described on this page? If so, find the answers in our High School College-Bound and College Planning Glossary.
Return to the main page of the College Planning Tutorial.
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