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College Admissions Calendar and Application Dates

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Important Dates in the College Application Process

Plan Ahead - Calendar Freshmen & Sophomores

  • Get to know your high school guidance counselor
  • Plan a family discussion about college
  • Evaluate your personality, interests, and skills
  • Participate in school and community activities
  • Explore occupations, salaries, and requirements
  • Understand basic college curriculum requirements
  • Start investigating how much college will cost
  • Check if your state sponsors a college savings plan

Now is a good time to start searching for colleges based on your interests and talents. Search schools by major here. Look at where they are located, cost and other factors important to you. If the schools makes the grade, or you want to come back to it later click "save school" to add it to your personal school list on HowToGetIn.

Junior Year Calendar

September

  • Plan a family college discussion and put a plan in place
  • Review your courses with your high school guidance counselor
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask college reps
  • Sign up to take the PSAT
  • Get and stay organized. Create files to keep copies of applications and correspondence. Set up a calendar to track important dates and deadlines.

October–November

December

  • Review your PSAT results with your parents and counselor
  • Talk with your college friends’ home for break
  • Take both the SAT and ACT at least once

January

  • Identify characteristics you want in a college
  • Attend college fairs and financial aid nights
  • Clear up the financial aid myths about paying for college
  • Let your parents know that the IRS could save them money through education tax deductions and credits

February

March

  • Plan campus visits
  • Narrow your college list to a reasonable number
  • Contact the financial aid office for each college on your list to discuss payment options
  • Keep up college discussions with your family and counselors
  • Get answers to your "going-to-college" questions
  • Estimate how much various colleges will cost

April–May

  • Select senior year classes—check with your counselor to ensure your courses meet necessary college requirements
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT
  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) tests, if applicable
  • Get a summer job to save extra money
  • Considering a military academy or an ROTC scholarship? Meet with your high school counselor before leaving for summer vacation

Summer after Junior Year

  • Improve your reading and vocabulary skills
  • Continue searching for scholarships and ways to pay
  • Combine vacation plans with campus visits
  • Start working on your college application essays
  • Talk to people in interesting careers
  • Decide who you’ll ask to write letters of recommendation
  • Talk with college friends home for summer

Junior year may be the most important year. Study hard, get pro-active in the process. Ask for help from everyone!!

High School Seniors - College Application Calendar of Dates

September

  • Discuss your classes, college plans, and test scores with your high school counselor
  • Request college applications from the admissions office. Or, use College Answer's Online Application Search to see if your school's form is online
  • Arrange campus visits
  • Register to take the SAT/ACT, if necessary
  • Continue to search for free money (scholarships and grants) and others ways to pay
  • Read the Free Scholarship Search Guide ebook
  • Submit a CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, if required
  • Stay organized: File copies of applications and correspondence. Keep your calendar up-to-date tracking important dates and deadlines

October

  • Review your transcripts to verify that the information is correct
  • Send transcripts to your selected schools—ask your counselor if you need help
  • Find out the application-of-choice used by each college
  • Ask for letters of recommendation. Most admissions and scholarship applications require these letters
  • Get some pointers on writing college admissions essays and scholarship essays
  • View sample essays and essay questions
  • Attend college fairs and financial aid nights
  • Candidates for early school admission (early decision, early action, early admission, etc.) should complete college applications. It's a good idea to investigate the pros and cons of this decision and to get familiar with the early admission timeline.

November

  • Continue completing your college applications
  • Early decision deadline is often November 1 or 15
  • Determine which financial aid forms the colleges on your list require—when in doubt contact the financial aid office
  • Investigate state college information and programs
  • Search for additional sources of financial aid
  • Get a jump on things by estimating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

December

  • Complete school applications ideally by December 1
  • Determine if you are eligible for financial aid
  • Understand the steps in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Determine how to submit your FAFSA (paper or on the Web)
  • Important: Don’t submit your FAFSA before January 1—it will be returned not processed
  • Take SAT or Achievements, if registered
  • Stay organized. Remember to keep copies of applications and correspondence. Continue to track important dates and deadlines on your calendar

January

  • Submit your FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. Some student aid programs award funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Waiting too long to submit your FAFSA could be costly.
  • Fill out and submit required financial aid forms. Follow instructions carefully and make copies
  • When you have financial aid questions contact your financial aid office
  • Familiarize yourself with state financial aid deadlines. They tend to differ from federal and institutional deadlines

February–March

  • College acceptance and financial award letters start to arrive
  • Watch the mail for your Student Aid Report (SAR). Carefully examine the results. A mistake could cause you to miss out on college funding.
  • If there are special circumstances affecting your family’s financial situation, be sure to discuss them with the financial aid office.
  • Don’t panic if you’re selected for verification. Just provide the college with the documents they need.
  • Stay on top of important financial aid deadlines.
  • Respond quickly to college requests for additional documentation.

April

  • Carefully analyze your letters—use College Answer's Online Award Analyzer
  • Make a decision and send your tuition deposit (most colleges require a response by May 1).
  • Notify the other colleges that you won’t be attending (other students will be happy to take your spot).
  • Register for Advanced Placement (AP) tests, if necessary.
  • Carefully follow the instructions in your acceptance letter. Along with important deadlines, these letters provide specific instructions on housing, financial aid, orientation, and more.

May

  • Mail your official/final transcripts
  • Respond quickly to requests and return necessary forms—when in doubt contact the financial aid office
  • Notify your financial aid office of additional funding you’ll receive to pay for college (scholarships and loans, etc.)
  • Take time to understand student loans and evaluate student loan lenders
  • Learn about borrowing responsibly, including considering a cosigner to help obtain your student loan.

Important: If you take out a student loan, borrow only what you absolutely need to cover the cost of your education. When it's time to repay, you'll have other financial obligations—like rent, car payments, and other living expenses.

June

  • Save some of your graduation money for school
  • Respond to requests from the college you will be attending. Keep copies of everything you send
  • Read and be familiar with your college catalog and semester class schedule
  • Talk with friends who are home from college
  • Make travel arrangements, if necessary
  • Send thank you notes or postcards to those who helped you get into college

July–August

  • If you still need money to pay for college, consider your student loan options
  • Register and attend a college orientation session
  • Confirm housing arrangements and meal plans
  • Finalize your college budget
  • Notify the financial aid office of scholarships and loans you will receive
  • Consider taking out a renter's insurance policy
  • Returned borrowed items, such as library books, rental videos, and things borrowed from friends
  • Note tracking numbers of boxes you are shipping to school
  • Open a bank account near campus
  • Review your cell phone plan to limit roaming charges
  • Contact your roommate and coordinate what to pack

If you get this far - congratulations! Make the most of your college career - it will pay off for the rest of your life.