November is a pivotal time of year for high school seniors – and we’re not just talking turkey. More than likely, it’s the month where any of your early admission applications are due. It’s also the month you need to start paying attention to upcoming deadlines for each college you’re planning to submit an application. It’s important that you’re aware that deadlines seem to be moving up earlier and earlier each year. At one point, most colleges had deadlines in January and February. Now, some colleges have regular admission deadlines closer to early admission dates than regular admission dates! Make sure that you have all of your deadlines clearly outlined on your calendar (don’t worry – this is on your checklist, too) so that you don’t miss any important deadlines for submitting your admission application, financial aid application and scholarship applications. Here’s a checklist to help you keep track of what to do during the November of your senior year in high school to stay on top of your college admissions process:
• If you’ve decided to apply early admission to a particular school, finalize and send whichever early decision or early action applications are due this month.
Always make sure to have a parent, teacher, counselor or other adult review your application before it is submitted to get an extra set of eyes double checking everything is included that’s necessary!
• Finalize your application essays.
You’ve been working tirelessly on your college essays for quite some time (hopefully). It’s time to finalize them. Allow some extra eyes to look over them for the last time – your parents, teachers or counselors would make great proofreaders. Once they give your essay one last look, take their feedback into account but, remember, your essay should be yours. Your words. Your ultimate vision. As long as you are happy with the end product, that’s what matters – it should ultimately reflect one thing: you.
• Find out your school’s procedures for sending official transcripts – and get the ball rolling.
All colleges you’re applying to will require your official high school transcripts, so make sure you know what your school’s policies are and get the ball rolling so that you school is able to send you official transcripts to the schools you’d like them to be sent to.
• Double check that testing companies have sent your scores directly to the colleges to which you are applying.
There’s no point in taking standardized tests if the schools you are applying to don’t know about it! Double check that your ducks are in a row and that your scores have been sent to all of the schools you are applying to. Also, make sure you’ve checked beforehand that you’ve taken the right standardized tests for each college you’re applying since different colleges require different exams.
• If necessary, register to take or retake the SAT, SAT Subject Tests or ACT.
Do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if this is still on your to do list!
• It’s time to finalize your college list.
Using all of the information you’ve gathered from your college visits, interviews with students and faculty, and your own independent research, it’s time to decide which schools you will be submitting applications to. Your number should fall somewhere between five and eight colleges. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to apply to schools that you feel are a little bit more difficult (your reach schools) as well as schools that you’re sure you’ll get into (your safety schools). Once you have decided on your list, go over it with your guidance counselor, teachers, and parents about your decisions.
• Keep track of ALL deadlines.
This is the year of deadlines. And, since you will be filling out all sorts of forms this year, it’s important to know what form is due when. Create a “deadline calendar” showing the application deadlines for admission, financial aid and scholarships so that you’ll never miss a date.
• Start preparing your application materials and, when everything is in order, apply!
After you’ve decided which schools you’re going to apply to, the only thing left to do is apply! Note all instructions, criteria and deadlines so that your application is fully completed. It’s also a great idea to have a parent, counselor or teacher look over your application to make sure there aren’t any errors. Ensure you follow all instructions and double check that all other materials have been submitted as well: recommendation letters, transcripts, test scores, etc. It’s also a great idea to make extra copies before you send them so that you can keep track of where you’ve applied already. Applying before winter break may be a good plan so that you’re not rushing to meet deadlines over the holidays.
• Check in with your guidance counselor to ensure you’re on track for admissions requirements, graduation requirements and to discuss financial aid options.
You don’t want any bad surprises at the end of the admissions process or school year! Staying in the loop with your guidance counselor is the best way to make sure you’re on track in all aspects of your academic career.
• Start thinking about financial aid.
Now that you know which colleges you’re applying to, you can obtain financial aid applications from those schools. Remember, when it comes to financial aid, it’s important to apply as early as possible! This information can help you to begin applying for financial aid and, ultimately, planning your college budget, taking into account other expenses such as room and board, tuition, books and any other expenses you’re already aware of. Additionally, you should start gathering information that’s required on that FAFSA form, which became available on October 1 – if you haven’t already done so. You can learn what you need to fill out the FAFSA on Fastweb, on the FAFSA website or you can talk to your counselor.
• Attend financial aid workshops with your parents.
Financial aid is a topic that is confusing for many, if not most, families. Attending a financial aid workshop is a great idea for both you and your parents to gain a better understanding of how to process works and can actually help you maximize your financial aid eligibility, saving you a ton of money.
• Make sure you continue to stay on track with your grades and your extracurricular activities.
Colleges will continue to look at what you’ve done in your senior year after you’ve submitted your application, so make sure you stay focused on doing well. Maintain your GPA in your courses and stay committed to any extracurricular activities you’ve been involved with so that your admission is never in jeopardy!
• Always continue your scholarship search.
Keep in mind that the time after you’ve sent your college applications is one of the best times to focus on your scholarship applications. Apply for scholarships from local organizations, your scholarship matches on Fastweb, by asking potential colleges which scholarships they would recommend at their school or asking your guidance counselor about any scholarships you may qualify for. Apply for scholarships as deadlines approach and continually search for more scholarship and grant opportunities. Never give up as this should be a continual process throughout your academic career!
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