Back-To-School Checklist for Seniors

For Seniors headed back to school, the college application process, if not already in high gear, is ramping up quickly.

Here are some tips from College Board – the company behind the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and AP Tests – for how to prepare this fall to keep your stress to a minimum and improve your chances of getting into your dream school.

• Narrow it down. You should whittle down your target college list to five-to-10 schools. If you haven’t done so yet, download college applications and financial aid forms. Plan visits.

• Create your to-do list, including:
– Tests you’ll take and their fees, dates, and registration deadlines
– College application due dates
– Required financial aid application forms and their deadlines (aid applications may be due before college applications)
– Other materials you’ll need (recommendations, transcripts, etc.)
– Your high school’s application processing deadlines

• Ask a counselor to help you request a fee waiver if you can’t afford application or test fees.

• Take the tests one more time. Many seniors retake the SAT and/or ACT in the fall. You’ve learned more since the last time you took the test, and this time, you know what to expect. Be sure to send the scores to your schools. (And, of course, if you don’t already have one, get your Testing Timers watch so you can manage your test time better!)

• Stay on top of Financial Aid deadlines. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): To apply for most financial aid, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA. Oct. 1 is the first day you can file the FAFSA.

• Looking for early decision? Get those admission applications done as soon as possible. Colleges may require test scores and applications between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 for early decision admission.

• Need letters of recommendation? Ask for them now. Give each teacher or counselor an outline of your academic record and your extracurricular activities. For each recommendation, provide a stamped, addressed envelope and any college forms required.

• Get to work on those essays. Write first drafts and ask teachers and others to read them. If you’re applying for early decision, finish the essays for that application now.

• Request your transcripts. Give counselors the proper forms at least two weeks before the colleges require them.