College Application Checklist

Don’t miss a thing with our College Application Checklist.

Applying to college? Look no further. Here are the most common college application items to help you stay organized. Use this college application checklist to stay ahead of application deadlines and make sure you don’t miss a thing.

June – Get Organized

  • Use a 3-ring binder to store all of your college application information and resources. Get some dividers and label them to stay organized:
    • List of Schools
    • Pros and Cons
    • Required Materials
    • School Contacts
    • Application Deadlines
    • Important Dates
    • Scholarships/Financials
    • Login Information
  • Research schools online and schedule campus tours. Universities like to see that you took the time to visit and learn more about their campus!
  • Sign up for the June ACT or SAT tests. Requirements vary depending on the school, so be sure to double check to see which tests (and what scores) you need for each school you are applying to. SAT Test Prep classes are super helpful and may increase your chances of getting the score you need without having to retake the test.
  • Begin searching for scholarships and grants that you’d like to apply to. You can receive scholarships for almost ANYTHING so don’t miss the opportunity to save some money on tuition!

July – Write Your Essays

  • Essay questions for the Common Application are already available online, get a head start and knock out the essays so you don’t have to stress once school starts again.
  • Check regularly to see if your desired schools have posted their essay questions and get started on those as they are released! Trust me. You won’t want to procrastinate on the writing!
  • Your ACT and SAT scores should be available anywhere between 4-6 weeks after you take them. You can typically find your results online before you receive them in the mail!
  • Continue researching schools and schedule visits for the upcoming Fall semester. It’s best to visit campuses while class is in session so you have a better idea of what it’s actually like to attend the school.

August – Choose Your Schools

  • Take a look at the Common App (open August 1st) and get an idea of what you want to write in each section.
  • Hopefully you’ve been narrowing down schools over the summer and you have your top picks lined up! If you’re having a tough time choosing schools, make a pros & cons list. Try to focus on 5-7 schools to send in applications to; remember, schools charge an application fee so you’ll want to pick a few.
  • Jot down the application deadlines (both early decision AND regular) and set reminders in your phone to keep up with the quickly approaching dates.

September – Start Applying

  • If you’re not happy with your ACT or SAT scores, or you haven’t taken them yet, be sure to register for the upcoming sessions in October.
  • Continue filling out the Common App and applications for your top schools. TAKE YOUR TIME! The applications don’t need to be completed in one sitting.
  • Ask (don’t tell) teachers to write recommendations for you. If you’re having a hard time with this, reach out to your counselor and they will gladly write a letter of recommendation. Keep in mind that teachers only get busier as the semester goes on; don’t put this off! Be sure you inform them of your deadlines so they know when to send in their letters.
  • Pay attention to scholarship and grant deadlines.

October – Keep Applying

  • Finish up your early decision applications and triple check them for spelling/grammar errors. Have a teacher or parent proofread to catch any mistakes.
  • Start submitting your early action applications and breathe a sigh of relief as your first college apps  are DONE!
  • Take some time to make sure you’re keeping up with your current classwork. Don’t slack after sending in early decision applications,
  • Admissions still takes into account your grades and performance from senior year.

November – Early Decision Deadlines

  • Submit all of your early action applications by the November deadlines!
  • Register for the December SAT or ACT tests if you still need to take them or if you’re still looking to improve your scores. Keep in mind that it’s common to score better each time you take the tests, but you do have to pay for each retake.
  • Check for scores from the October test date. Results will be available anywhere between 4-6 weeks after testing.
  • Finalize applications for regular decision dates and triple check them for spelling/grammar errors. Have a teacher or parent proofread to catch any mistakes.

December – Check Application Status

  • Complete and submit all applications by the final deadline.
  • Keep track of your login information for each school you’ve applied to so you can regularly check your application status throughout the process.
  • Applicants typically receive acceptance letters for early action mid-late December! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away, some applicants hear back further into January. Be patient!

January – Financials

  • Start working on your financial aid forms and jot down the deadlines. NOTE: the earlier you complete and submit your forms, the easier it is for financial services to help you.
  • FAFSA deadlines vary depending on where you live. Stay informed!
  • Send in ALL remaining applications and celebrate when you’re finished with the tedious college application process!

February – Finalize Scholarships

  • Keep working on scholarships and financial aid forms.
  • Login to each school’s portal to track your application statuses.
  • The next round of early action decisions go out mid-month. Keep checking for big envelopes in the mail and look online!

March – Check the Mail

  • It’s okay to be that person that stares out the window all day, every day waiting for the mail to come.
  • If you still need to visit schools in order to help you make a decision, the upcoming Spring is a great time to take a tour.
  • Consider the financials for each school you’re accepted to and begin budgeting.

April – Weigh the Pros and Cons

  • Reach out to current students to learn more about the schools you’re looking to attend. They’ll have the best insights into the town, food, nightlife, and more.
  • Make a pros & cons list to start narrowing down your picks.
  • If you’re really struggling to decide, flip a coin. If you flip and you’re disappointed with the outcome, you know you were hoping for the other school. If you flip and you’re excited, you know it’s the right choice! Follow your instinct.
  • Keep in mind that final decisions are due by May 1st!

May – It’s Decision Time!

  • Send in your deposit by May 1st – DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP!
  • Keep an eye out for information about orientation, dorm preferences, health and insurance forms, and other information. Schools will often walk you through class registration during orientation, but research classes ahead of time so you aren’t uninformed and rushed!
  • Regularly check your portal for important information and items needed to be completed before you start school.
  • The FAFSA deadline is ____ so keep track of the date in your calendar!
  • If you were placed on a waitlist, you should be hearing about decision dates around this time.
  • Take all of your AP tests. They really aren’t that bad and you end up saving money because you don’t have to take the course when you get to college!
  • Thank your teachers and counselors for helping you along the way. They are just as excited to see you enter this new chapter!
  • Start finding a roommate! There are tons of resources to help. Make sure you discuss expectations (quiet hours, cleanliness, etc.) BEFORE committing to a roommate.
  • Shop sales for dorm decor and essentials. Target, DormCo, and PBTeen are all great sites for creating the perfect dorm. Be sure to coordinate with your roommate so you don’t end up with 2 of everything!
  • And lastly, enjoy your last few weeks of high school and have a great summer!
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