Senior year in high school can be a bit hectic. Even though you’re trying to enjoy your final year in high school, you also need to keep an eye on all kinds of deadlines to make sure you don’t fall behind and miss out!
I’ve come up with this timeline, going by what events happened during my senior year in high school. Hopefully, this list will help you out a bit. Please let me know if there’s anything important I’ve forgotten.
Senior year is a big year, and it flies by, believe me. If you want to make sure you leave high school with every loose end taken care of, it helps to have an excellent guideline of what to do as your year goes.
While individual parts will come with their specific dates, some senior events will remain consistent year to year.
- Get an idea what colleges you’re going to apply. Research schools online and you can form an idea of where you want to go. Having a solid idea where you want to apply to early on will save you a lot of hassle down the road. Maybe a gap year is what you consider?
- Start your college applications. Hopefully, by now, you have an idea what schools you’re interested. October is relatively early to start on your applications, which will give you plenty of time to write good essays, find the information you need, receive letters of recommendation, and so forth.
- Finish up any testing you need to do. Take the ACT/SAT.
- Submit your college applications. Most college applications are due around the end of November. Don’t procrastinate until the last moment. Make sure you’ve filled them out to the best of your ability and hit that Submit button. Once you have those in, you’ll feel a massive weight off of your shoulders!
- Retake any tests. ACT/SAT, if you don’t like your current scores. By now, you’ve hopefully taken them at least once. See also this book.
- Visit some colleges over winter break. Winter break is a splendid time to see a college that you’re considering. Here, you can take a few days to travel and see the campus. Talk to your parents beforehand to make sure they’re able to take some time off if needed. If you make your visit count, you might not have to go back until you make your decision.
- Last call for testing! Most schools want the results by the end of the month. Make sure that the schools you’ve applied to have received or will receive your scores in time. Check with the SAT/ACT programs to ensure they will be shipped out on time, and check with your prospective colleges to make sure that the deadlines will be met.
- Begin on your FAFSA. The FAFSA requires a good amount of documents from your parents and you. Give your parents some heads up and show them what you need to fill it out.
- Start applying for scholarships. You can (and should) start well before January, but now is the best time to be hardcore about it. Start to hunt for scholarships that you can win. Now is an excellent opportunity to ask for letters of recommendation, if you haven’t needed them before.
- Check your prospective colleges’ websites. Some colleges will want you to make an account on their website to inform you of your application status. Having an account will usually let you know sooner if you were accepted or not, so go ahead and create one if it needed.
- Finish filling out your FAFSA. Having your FAFSA completed before March gives you the best chance of receiving any federal aid.
- Continue applying for scholarships.
- Find out where you were accepted. Most colleges inform you of your admission in March. Check your e-mail and mail frequently for any updates, and don’t forget to check their websites too.
- Begin to narrow it down. If you applied to a bunch of schools, start narrowing it down. I kept a nice list that I started to cross my choices off of, but you can do whatever works for you. If your backup schools are no longer needed, take them off the list! Continue to research schools and your major to figure out where you might not fit as well as you thought.
- Sign up for AP tests. Only take tests that will benefit you in college. Look at the websites of the schools that accepted you to see what scores will help you. Choose tests that you think you have a decent chance of passing.
- Continue to apply for scholarships.
- Decide where you want to go to college. The big decision! Most schools want to know by the beginning of May. Hopefully, by now, you’re leaning towards one school in particular. Now is the time to finalize up your research. Make another trip to your top schools if necessary. The earlier in April you decide where you want to go, the better.
- Keep on working at those scholarships!
- Take any AP tests. Remember to prepare and give them your best. Passing AP tests can save you the hassle of taking a class you hate later on, as well as money.
- Prom. Most schools have prom sometime in May. Enjoy your senior prom! It’s one of those big nostalgia things that many people look back on fondly.
- Avoid senioritis. Once you’ve declared where you will attend, it’s very easy to start spiraling down the path to laziness. Try to keep up with your work — colleges will revoke your admission if necessary.
- Scholarship applications! Do you see the pattern? These things will never leave you alone.
- Graduate! Enjoy your last few moments as a senior! Graduation will put a close to a major chapter in your life.
- Make sure your school has all of your information. Transcripts, scores, etc. AP scores won’t come in for a while, but everything else you should take care of while you can.
- Summer! Enjoy your summer too. After summer, many of your friends will begin to go their separate ways. It will be your last season as a big group, so take advantage of it!
Every school has a different calendar, so some of this might not line up correctly with your school. The same applies to colleges: every college is different. This timeline is to serve as a general reminder of significant occurrences during senior year, and hopefully, it can help you out. Is there anything that I’ve forgotten that belongs on this calendar?