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The Rising Senior Checklist

Congratulations! You’ve made it through Junior year! Now, as a rising Senior, it’s time to check in and make sure you’re on track to a successful year and college admissions process. This quick list will help clarify some important factors in a successful Senior year.

  1. Formulate a plan

    Take the time to sit together with your parents or counselors and talk about what you plan to accomplish during your Senior year. With college admissions, schoolwork, and extracurriculars you’ll have a lot on your plate. Taking the time to plan out your year will help clarify any important deadlines or events you may need to plan around.

  2. Narrow Down Your College Choices

    Now is the time to go on any last-minute college tours you may have planned. This is also the time to start narrowing down your list of college choices. You should aim to have no more than 7-10 schools on your list, and you can create a list of pros/cons to help you. Remember to include a mix of schools where you stand a varied chance of admission. It’s okay to apply to a highly selective school, but you should also include schools to which you stand a strong chance of being admitted.

  3. Tackle Last-Minute SAT or ACT Tests

    If you haven’t achieved your goal scores on the SAT or ACT, there is still time, but you will need to schedule the earliest possible test date in the fall. Also, make sure you have reviewed all the standardized test requirements for the schools on your list. If your school choices require the Essay portion of the SAT or ACT, or a certain Subject Test, you’ll want to get those completed as soon as possible.

  4. Start Your Applications

    You will likely want to create both a Common Application and Coalition Application account to determine which will better fit your needs. You should also check your list of colleges and determine whether your choices accept one or both of the applications. Keep in mind, some schools will have their own applications which may take more time to complete. While both the Common Application and Coalition Application offer an easier way to handle multiple school applications, it’s important to plan ahead and review all of your application deadlines in advance.

  5. Fill Out Your FAFSA

    If you know you will need some form of scholarship or aid to attend college, filling out your FAFSA in October is your first step. You’ll need tax returns and bank statements and proof of income from your parents. Additional paperwork may be required to prove your household expenses. Having this information ready to go prior to starting your FAFSA application will streamline the process and save you valuable time. You should also plan to fill out the College Scholarship Services Profile for your individual schools so that you can take advantage of any Institutional Aid you may be eligible for.

  6. Check In with Your Admissions Team

    By now you probably have a group of people who are invested in your college admissions process. They may be your parents, guidance counselor, teacher, tutor, or anyone who may help with your admissions process. Check in with these people regularly, keep them informed of your plans, any deadlines you may have, and any recommendations you may need. This is a great opportunity to make sure that the plans you are making will pan out the right way. Remember to be gracious with anyone who has offering help.

Keep in mind that this list isn’t all encompassing and that your admissions process will be unique to you. Senior year is a busy time and it can feel overwhelming, but there are several resources at your disposal. Taking the time to plan out your year now will help reduce stress and give you a clear path through your last year of high school.

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