March College Checklist for Seniors

From The Choice….”This is the month you’ve been waiting for. Most admission decisions will be released by the end of March, leaving all of April for you to make your choice. Take a few deep breaths and contemplate what it will be like to receive your decision notices. Make a plan for how, when and where you want to get and share the news, and think about how you will evaluate your offers.”

I would also add: THANK those who supported you along the way, especially your guidance counselor, private counselor, parents, family members and recommendation writers. In most cases (especially those recommendation writers!) you couldn’t have done it without them. A simple sign of gratitude goes a long way.

View the full checklist here.


February Checklist for Seniors

And now…you wait. Here is the lowdown on what you can be doing in the meantime:

-Financial Aid Forms
-Research Scholarships
-Stay in touch with admissions contacts
-Keep a positive attitude and forward thinking perspective
-Thank those who have supported you along the way

Read more from The Choice article by Meghan Ryan.

November Checklist: Seniors

Assess Your Progress Toward a Strong Finish

Finish your first semester on a strong note in the classroom. Colleges know that you often start your academic career at their institution in the same way you finished at your high school.

You should also continue to show teachers and other adults in your life that you make wise choices in and out of school and demonstrate that you are ready for the independence that you will have as a college student.

Next, place yourself into one of the following two categories:

Not There Yet: You have procrastinated or need more time to prove yourself to colleges; it is important to recognize that college admission is within your reach.

In the Waiting Room: You have written and rewritten essays, requested transcripts and teacher recommendations, sent scores and perhaps completed your interviews.

Checklist for Seniors Who Are ‘Not There Yet’

It’s not too late, and you’re not alone. Students move through this process at different speeds, and there is not one definitive deadline for all colleges.

Please note that the only definitive deadlines are for financial aid, and you and your parents must meet these deadlines to qualify for money. If you put yourself in the camp of “not there yet,” please follow these basic instructions to complete the process:

Take Standardized Tests, Before It’s Too Late

Register for the SAT or ACT before the late registration deadline passes. (Please note that some SAT test dates and deadlines have changed for students in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.)

Request Supplemental Materials for Your Application

Request teacher recommendations and transcripts from your counselor as soon as possible. Most schools require three to four weeks advance notice to process these materials.

Complete Your College Applications

Nearly 500 colleges and universities accept the Common Application, which students can use to apply to a number of colleges and universities. You may also use your prospective college’s online application by going directly to the school’s Web site.

If you need help paying for applications or standardized test registration fees, ask your school counselor if your family qualifies for fee waivers.

Checklist for Seniors ‘In the Waiting Room’

You have handled the process part of the college application very well, which in so many ways shows that you are ready for the independence you will have next year. Take a moment to celebrate the work you’ve done. This is a milestone, and you should be proud of yourself.

If you’ve already hit the submit button and applications are out of your hands, this time can be wrought with anxiety as you wait to hear your fate. No matter how much you want to know the answer, you cannot speed up time; you will not know until the college releases their decisions. Some things to consider:

Keep Your Options Open

It’s not too late to make last-minute additions and revisit and reaffirm the choices you’ve made. Now is the time to make sure you have applied to an appropriate list of colleges that will afford you choice.

Prepare Next Steps After Early Decision

If you have applied under an early decision plan, use the next few weeks to work on the applications you will file if you are deferred or denied in the early decision round. Do not submit these applications yet (you do not want to pay the fees at this point) but have them ready to go. Do not lose time because of poor planning.

Mind the Deadlines

Be aware that some colleges use Jan. 1 as a deadline. If fireworks are bringing in the New Year outside, it is really too late to be working on these applications.

Follow Up With Teachers and Counselors

Here’s a well-kept secret: teachers and counselors like school vacations, too. Most of them have been working tirelessly all semester to support your application process. Let them know before winter break if you have additional applications you’d like to submit.

Now is also a great time to thank your teachers for their support. A kind word or a note goes a long way.


Financial Planning for College

Great article by Rachel Louise Ensign in the Wall Street Journal. Parents of college-bound students as well as those a more than a few years out from starting the process should give this article a read! Starting to think about college costs early on is crucial in setting up your finances in a way that won’t hurt you come FAFSA time.

The Three Biggest Lies in College Admission

Steve Cohen via Forbes provides some excellent insight into three common misperceptions in college admissions. They are:

  • Standardized test (SAT and ACT) scores are less and less important.
  • Asking for financial aid won’t have an impact on the admission decision; and
  • There is a level playing field in college admissions.

Read Steve’s full article here.

Four-Year Public College Tuition Continues to Rise

Four out of the five that made it on to the top-five list are western states – California, Arizona, Nevada, and Washington. Just another reason why bigger (and public) isn’t always better or, more so now than ever, more affordable.  Though public college tuition for the most part is still less for in-state students, with increased competitiveness within the in-state market (especially in states like California) looking out of state, at both public and smaller private institutions, is becoming an increasingly more viable option.

Read more about rising tuition costs here.