College Application Schedule
Find out where your high school child should be in the college application process.
Table of contents
College Application Schedule
- Meet with your guidance counselor. Get copies of the courses offered, the requirements for graduation, and an explanation of the grading system.
- Draft a four-year schedule of classes that meet the minimum requirements for college admission.
- Find out about the extracurricular activities you'd like to become involved in.
- Build a flexible schedule that will accomodate time for studying, extracurricular activities, working out, and relaxing.
- Update your four-year class schedule. Make sure that you are meeting the minimum requirements for college admissions, and you are on track to complete most of the requirements by the end of your junior year.
- Update your four-year athletic and extracurricular calendar. Have you set, and are you meeting, specific goals?
- Register for the PSAT/NMSQT (you may have to contact your guidance counselor directly if your school only automatically registers juniors for the test.
- Take the PSAT (given only once in October).
- If you are pursuing a sport seriously, research NCAA requirements. Plan an academic athletic program that allows you to maintain eligibility for NCAA programs.
- Register for the PSAT/NMSQT.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. (This time it counts).
- Begin the college search process (through books, software, or online search programs); generate a list of no more than 20 schools that appear to meet your criteria. Write to these schools and request an application with information for admissions.
- If playing sports in college is a goal, write to college coaches for your sport at your target schools. Send them a note describing your interest in their school's program and your experience in the sport (including years played, training, stats, and special honors and awards). Also include a schedule of activity for the upcoming year (intercollegiate calendar, local and other tournaments, special camps and programs). Register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearninghouse.
- Attend local college fairs, and begin visiting your target schools if at all possible. Introduce yourself to the college advisor at your school if it will be someone other than your guidance counselor. Ask about the schedule of visiting recruiters, and circle the dates for recruiters visiting from your target schools.
- Summarize the academic requirements that apply to your schools. Compare them to your course schedule. Adjust your course schedule (if necessary) to be sure that you meet the academic requirements of your target schools.
- Identify what the test requirements are for your target schools. Compare them to your course schedule. Adjust your course schedule (if necessary) to be sure that you can meet the academic requirements of your target schools.
- Begin preparing for the SAT I. If you're within 50 points of the average scores, at minimum, purchase a book and self-study for the SAT I. If you are more than 50 points away on the math and/or verbal scores, undertake a formal course of study, through books, software, or a course. Start your study program in January so you can build and practice the skills you need before the May test date.
- If many of your target schools require the ACT, begin preparing for it, and determine whether your remaining schools will accept the ACT instead of the SAT I.
- Request financial aid bulletins from all of your target schools. Estimate the college costs, and begin to identify the ways in which you and your family will meet them. Get a copy of the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and take your family through the process of completing one. Use one of the software and/or online programs to estimate your Expected Family Contribution.
- Begin searching for scholarship programs that you will be eligible for. Collect and prepare drafts of the application materials. Draft a schedule of deadline dates so you will be prepared to meet them.
- Review your list of target schools. What are your chances of getting in? Make sure to include one safety school on your list.
- Review the admissions requirements one final time to make sure you meet the academic and testing requirements. Make adjustments to course schedule as needed.
- Take the SAT I or ACT again if you need higher test scores and have prepared over the summer to improve them.
- Meet with visiting recruiters from your target schools.
- If you'll be pursuing athletics at college, make telephone contact with the coaches at your target schools. Update your athletic resume, and keep coaches up-to-date on your latest activities and schedules. Find out the Letter of Intent dates for your sport from the NCAA.
- Send for the application materials for your targeted scholarship and grant programs. Make sure that you meet eligibility requirements for each program.
- Visit the campuses on your list of targets.
- Identify at least two teachers and two extracurricular advisors (e.g., coach and employer) who could write solid, glowing recommendations for you. Approach them and discuss where you'll be applying, why, and your desire to have them support your application through a great recommendation about your character, contributions, and ability.
- Complete your school and scholarship applications. Have someone who has great English skills (such as an English teacher) review your application and essays for corrections and neatness. Note that applications for admissions and scholarships are usually accepted beginning in November; for early decisions and priority consideration for scholarships, you must apply now.
- Get a copy of the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is usually made available in November.
- Since many application deadlines for schools and scholarships fall in December, make sure your applications are in on time.