A Checklist for Seniors:
Read through the following lists and check things off one by one as you go. It is a challenge, but you're ready
- Finalize your list of
- Get a calendar for all of the college and scholarship application deadlines and any interview dates.
- Make sure you have all applications required for college admission and financial
aid. Application and scholarship information will be on the college website. Call or go online to get questions answered or
request missing information.
- Check on application
and financial aid deadlines for the schools to which you plan to apply. They may vary and it is essential to meet all deadlines!
- Meet with your guidance counselor to be sure you have
a balanced list of colleges. Review your transcript and co-curricular records with your school counselor to ensure their accuracy.
- Register for the October/November SAT Reasoning Test
and/or SAT Subject Tests, or September/October ACT.
the colleges require recommendations, ask the appropriate people to write on your behalf. At least three weeks before the
due date, ask your counselor and teachers, employers, or coaches to write letters of recommendation. Provide recommendation
forms, any special instructions and a stamped, addressed business envelope to the people writing your recommendation. Be thoughtful!
Write thank-you notes to those who write recommendations and keep them informed of your decisions.
- Plan visits to colleges that still interest you. Read bulletin boards and the college newspaper. Attend a class and
talk with current students and professors if possible.
an interview with an admissions staff member during your visit if the college offers them.
- Submit your applications in time to reach the colleges by the deadlines.
Check with your guidance counselor to make sure your transcript and test scores have been/will be sent to the colleges to
which you are applying.
- If applying for early decision
or early action, send in your applications in by the deadline (usually Nov. 1 or Nov. 15). Also prepare applications for other
colleges in case you are not accepted or are deferred for Early Decision or Early Action.
- Early Decision applications require you to enroll at that college and to withdraw all other applications.
- Submit financial aid information if requested from early decision/action
- Register for the December SAT Reasoning
Test and/or SAT Subject Tests, or December ACT if you have not completed the required tests or if you are not happy with your
previous test scores and think you can do better.
official test scores sent by the testing agency to colleges on your list.
- Take the SAT Reasoning Test or SAT Subject
Tests if appropriate. Don't forget to have test scores sent to colleges on your list.
- Be sure your first quarter grades are good.
completing applications to colleges. Make copies of all applications before mailing the applications.
- If you need financial aid, obtain a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal
Student Aid) from your guidance office. Check to see if the colleges to which you are applying require any other financial
aid form. Register for the CSS Profile if required and obtain the college's own financial aid forms, if available.
- Keep all records, test score reports and copies of applications for admission
and financial aid. Do not throw anything away until at least the end of your first year in college. Having detailed records
will save you time and effort should anything be lost or should you decide to apply in the future to other colleges and scholarship
- Have official test scores sent to colleges
on your list if you have not done so.
- Consult your
school counselor again to review your final list of colleges. Be sure you have all bases covered. It is a good idea to make
copies of everything before you drop those envelopes in the mail. If for some reason your application gets lost, you will
have a back-up copy. File your last college application.
you applied for early decision, you should have an answer by now. If you are accepted, follow the instructions for admitted
students. If the decision is deferred until spring or you are denied, submit applications now to other colleges.
- Keep working in your classes! Grades and
courses continue to count throughout the senior year.
that your counselor send the transcript of your first semester grades to the colleges to which you applied.
- Parents and students, complete your income tax forms as soon as possible.
You will need those figures to fill out the FAFSA. Complete and return your FAFSA as quickly as possible after January 1.
Check to make sure your colleges or state does not require any other financial aid forms. If they do, consult your guidance
counselor or contact the college's financial aid office.
- Remember to monitor your applications to
be sure that all materials are sent and received on time and that they are complete. Stay on top of things and don't procrastinate;
you can ruin your chances for admission by missing a deadline.
- If you completed a FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within four weeks after submitting the
FAFSA. Review the SAR carefully and check for any inaccuracies. If necessary, correct any items on the SAR and return it to
the FAFSA processor (if a college transmitted your data directly, notify the college of any change).
- If more than four weeks have passed after sending in your FAFSA and you
have not received an acknowledgment, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (319) 337-5665. To identify you,
they will need your name, social security number, address, and date of birth exactly as it was written on your FAFSA.
- Complete scholarship applications. You may be eligible for more scholarships
than you think, so apply for as many as you can.
your final year in high school, but don't catch senioritis!
- Watch the mail or email
for college acceptances.
- Stay focused
and keep studying-only a couple more months to go!
- Review your college acceptances and financial aid awards. Be sure to compare
financial aid packages in your decision-making process. If you are positive you will not enroll at one or more of the colleges
which accepted you, please notify those colleges that you have selected another college. Keeping colleges abreast of your
plans might enable those colleges to admit someone else. If you know which college you will attend, send your tuition deposit
and follow all other instructions for admitted students. You must decide which offer of admission to accept by May 1 (postmark
- By May 1, decide on the one college that
you will attend. By May 1, send in your tuition deposit to the college you will attend. Notify the other colleges that accepted
you that you have selected another college.
- BE PROUD-you
have completed a difficult task.
- Let the other colleges
that accepted you know that you will not be attending. They appreciate hearing from you.
- If your first-choice college places you on their waiting list, do not lose all hope. Some students are admitted off
the waiting list. Talk with your counselor, and contact the college to let them know you are still very interested. Keep the
college updated on your activities.
- Take Advanced
Placement examinations, if appropriate and request that your AP scores be sent to the college you will attend.
- Request your final transcript be sent to
the college you will attend. Notify the college of any private scholarships or grants you will be receiving.
- Know when the payment for tuition, room and board, meal plans, etc., is
due. If necessary, ask the financial aid office about a possible payment plan that will allow for you to pay in installments.
- Congratulations, you've made it through high school!
Enjoy your graduation and look forward to college.
- Look for information in the mail from the
college about housing, roommate(s), orientation, course selection, etc. Respond promptly to all requests from the college.
- Ease the transition into college.
Accept the fact that you'll be in charge of your academic and personal life. What you do, when you do it and how things get
done will be up to you. You'll have new responsibilities and challenges. Think about budgeting your time and establishing
priorities. Take charge of the changes that lie ahead and eliminate or minimize pressures. Go forth with confidence and enthusiasm,
willingness to adapt and determination to succeed academically and personally.
- Pack for college. Don't forget to include things that remind you of friends and family. Be prepared for the new opportunities
and challenges. Have a great freshman year!
What to Do About Senioritis
Seniors have worked
hard for three years, taking tests, completing projects, and preparing for college admission. When senior year rolls around,
some students just want to get through college applications and relax before they head off to the college of their choice.
Also known as senioritis, taking it easy senior year may seem like a nice
break, but is likely to do more harm than good. According to recent reports, incomplete high school preparation can contribute
to academic problems in college.
- "As many as
half of all college students do not have adequate academic preparation, and are required to take remedial courses."
- "More than one quarter of the freshmen at four-year colleges and nearly
half of those at two-year colleges do not even make it to their sophomore year."
Not only does senioritis jeopardize your chances for success later on in college, it can also affect your grades—and
college admission officers pay close attention to your performance senior year.
Senior-Year Grades and College Admission
students mistakenly believe that prepping for college ends after the eleventh grade. However, the senior year—the entire
senior year—is actually of particular interest to colleges.
Many college applications (including the Common Application) require you
to list your senior courses, including information about course levels and credit hours. It will be very obvious to the admission
officers if you've decided to take the year off.
colleges also include as part of the application a form called the mid-year grade report. Your counselor completes this form
with first-half grades and sends it to the colleges to which you've applied. It then becomes a crucial part of the application
If You Are Accepted
Many college acceptance letters include warnings to students such as "Your admission is contingent on your continued
successful performance." This means colleges reserve the right to deny you admission should your senior year grades drop.
Mary Lee Hoganson, College Counselor for Homewood-Flossmor Community High
School, Flossmor, Illinois writes: "It is not at all rare for a college to withdraw an offer of admission when grades
drop significantly over the course of the senior year. (I have a folder full of copies of these letters.)"
How to Make the Most of Your Senior Year
Senior year is your opportunity to strengthen your skills and broaden your experiences, in school and out, to prepare
for all of the challenges ahead. A successful senior year can help launch you on the path to a successful future.
Maintain a Challenging Course Load
You should take the most rigorous courses available, and be sure to continue taking college-track subjects. Consider
AP® courses, which can also earn you credit at many colleges.
Active and Involved
Your continued involvement in activities,
sports, volunteer work, etc. will help you stay active and focused throughout your final year. A great internship or career-focused
job opportunity can help motivate you to start considering your career options. Meaningful and significant experiences will
help prepare you to make informed decisions about your education and career goals.
out College Early
If you're interested in pursuing a
subject further, and have excelled at your high school classes so far, consider taking a class at a local college. This challenge
can help you avoid sliding into an academic slump, and stimulate your interest in the possibilities of college.
Another option in many areas is middle college or early college high schools.
These schools, normally located on community and four-year college campuses, allow students to spend their last two years
taking classes in both college and high school. Early exposure to college classes introduces you to the rigor of college work
while easing your transition from high school.
National Commission on the High School Senior Year, The
Lost Opportunity of Senior Year: Finding a Better Way - Summary of Findings, 2001.
Barth, P., Haycock, K., Huang, S.
and Richardson, A., Youth at the Crossroads: Facing High School and Beyond. Washington, DC: The Education Trust, 2000.