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Senior Year Checklist

Get ready parents and Seniors! This is the last stretch to the finish line of your high-school career and the starting gate to your new college journey! You are almost there!

Summer between Junior and Senior Year

  • August 1. the Common Application will be available. Visit The Common Application website , create a new account, and follow it’s instructions on how to fill out the application for the schools you are applying to that accept this application. Look over the essay prompts.
  • Visit the websites of any schools that do not accept the Common Application and begin filling out application forms. You should print out your applications and check them before you submit them electronically.
  • Begin working on your college application essays. For tips on writing good college application essays check out the College Board resources at You can also find helpful tips for the UC Essays, called the UC Personal Statement, at universityofcalifornia– if you are applying to UC’s. Please note: CSU’s do not ask for essays.
  • Schedule campus visits and interviews for any college you are interested in that you did not visit in the spring. It’s always best to visit colleges when school is in session to get the vibe of the campus and the students attending. It’s important you feel comfortable in the social as well as academic community.  I also suggest you visit the campus and area the campus is in during the worst weather season to make sure you are comfortable there. Weather can be a big cause of students deciding the college isn’t right for them after they start there.
  • If you are planning to pursue a major in the arts, start getting your portfolio or audition ready.

If needed: register to take the SAT or ACT in the fall. It is recommended that you register early, as colleges will have either a November or December test date deadline (be sure you research this deadline with your specific colleges). Be prepared to indicate at least four colleges to receive your scores. You will be charged a fee for schools that are added later.  Some schools are ACT/SAT test optional; so check the websites of all of the schools you are applying to for this.

Make a list of all of your application deadlines and stick to those deadlines. College Scholarship deadlines are typically in December.

  • Early Decision versus Early Action. Early Decision is binding. Early Action is not binding. Both allow a student to get their admissions decisions usually by the end of January. Only if you are absolutely positive you want to attend a school should you apply Early Decision as you have to commit to that school if you are accepted. There is no harm in applying to the schools on your list that offer Early Action. The benefit to this is you find out your admissions decision early, but don’t have to commit to the school until the regular decision deadline of May 1. You need to apply by the early application deadlines for both of these options.
  • Set up an email account that is not spam-guarded, that you can check often, and that is appropriate for college admissions. Usually an email with your first and last name is best.
  • Review your class schedule and email your counselor if there are any problems. (e.g., if you failed to meet pre-reqs for your senior year courses, let your counselor know before August 1st that your schedule needs to be adjusted and let your counselor know what your course change request is) If you need to remediate any classes at this point let your counselor know now!
  • Find out the visitation schedule of college representatives and sign up for the schools you are interested in attending.
  • Begin searching for scholarships. Be sure to search for local scholarships to maximize your chance of winning. You should also use sites such as and to search for national scholarships.

Senior Year – Fall

  • Schedule a special appointment by September 15th with your counselor if you are considering applying for binding early admission (Early Decision).
  • Find out what the process is at your high school to request teacher recommendations and follow it.
  • Ask teachers/counselors to write recommendations for you.
  • Check to see if your schools require you to complete the College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) form for financial aid. If so, make note of the deadline and go to to complete your profile form.
  • Continue to research colleges and begin preparing college applications online.
  • Meet with your counselor to review your transcript and discuss plans.
  • Prepare applications for Early Decision or Early Action. (if desired)
  • Whenever you apply to a college, make sure to do the following:

-Submit the completed application online.

-For Common App: Electronically sign the FERPA form and waive rights within Common App.

-Transcript Requests: Find out what the process for ordering and sending transcripts is for your schools and follow it. UC’s do not ask for a transcript during this time. CSU’s may or may not ask for a transcript; so check with the school.

– Request that your test scores (SAT, SAT Subject) be sent to the college from College Board or ACT if you have not yet done so. (all colleges: including UC’s and CSU’s) Continue finalizing your college search.

  • Watch for deadlines, especially Early Decision, Early Action, or scholarship deadlines. (e.g. USC has a scholarship deadline of December 1st. If you are applying to USC and would like to be considered for scholarships, you will need to apply by this deadline.) Check school websites for other scholarship deadlines.
  • Make sure to keep your grades up! Colleges will look closely at your senior grades. Some colleges are now requesting 1st quarter grades to be sent prior to making their decision.
  • Continue to watch for deadlines.
  • Submit UC,CSU, Common App and any other applications you are submitting for the early submission date before you sit down and eat your Thanksgiving Dinner. If you wait, you may be subject to website problems as these sites typically crash or have delays due to the overwhelming amount of applications during the last few days of the month. Do not procrastinate!
  • Application/transcript requests should be turned into the counseling office at least one month before the application deadline.
  • Send a kind thank you note to your recommenders and your counselor once your letters have been submitted.
  • Check your Common Application Portal for anything missing from your applications to each school.
  • Call the school admissions if you have any concerns about your application. It is ok to talk to them. They want to help.

Senior Year – Winter

  • Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (for financial aid purposes) with your parents. This form should be completed online at as soon after January 1st as possible.
  • Request mid-year transcripts if the school requires a mid-year report. UC’s and CSU’s typically do not ask for a mid-year report. (occasionally they will audit applications and ask for one, but do not request a mid-year unless you hear from the particular UC/CSU)
  • Check colleges and universities for financial aid deadlines. (especially CSS Profile deadlines) Information can be found on College Board.
  • Submit financial aid forms before the end of February.
  • Complete any scholarship applications.
  • If you have already been accepted at the college you wish to attend congratulations!.If you have notified your college you will be attending, please also notify the other colleges that you will not be attending; so they can admit someone else.

Senior Year – Spring

  • Be aware of housing deadlines and the May 1st acceptance/letter of intent deadline. Turn in all appropriate deposits to your college.
  • Don’t make summer plans until you register for your college orientation in the summer.
  • In May, order for your Final Transcript to be sent to your college. Also order your transcript to be sent to the NCAA if you are playing a NCAA sport.


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