To-Do List for Parents of High School Seniors
Most of this work will be done by the student, but parents can encourage, proofread, and help the whole process stay on track.
❑ Confirm that counselor and teacher recommendation letters have been uploaded into the Common Application and request transcripts be sent to the schools you’re applying to (there may be a small fee for each transcript).
❑ Note financial aid application deadlines, which may differ from admission application deadlines. Not sure you qualify? Learn more at the Federal Student Aid website.
❑ Continue to “demonstrate interest” in schools — open emails from colleges, call the admission office to request an alumni interview, etc.
❑ Start gathering financial information and prepare to file taxes early.
❑ Decide which test scores (SAT, ACT) to send and order score reports.
❑ Proof your applications one final time and “submit”!
❑ Submit applications with late due dates (Jan. 15th or after).
❑ Follow up with colleges to make sure all application materials were received.
❑ Check financial aid application deadlines (which vary by school).
❑ Research and apply for scholarships.
❑ Have mid-year grade reports sent to all schools you’ve applied to.
❑ Confirm financial aid deadlines & requirements at the schools you applied to.
❑ File taxes early if possible, but don’t wait to submit the FAFSA — it can be updated later.
❑ Explore gap year possibilities.
❑ If you didn’t apply yet, or want more options, look into schools with late deadlines and/or rolling admissions.
❑ Beware of Senioritis…stay on track academically!
❑ Begin planning for summer (work, travel, volunteering, etc.).
❑ Prepare for an emotional month!
❑ Continue to apply for financial aid (deadlines/requirements vary by school) and scholarships.
❑ Decisions arrive in the mail and/or online by the end of the month, so get ready to handle and share “the news.”
❑ Compare financial aid awards and evaluate your options.
❑ Consider attending “admitted student” events on campus if you need help deciding which school to accept.
❑ Attend “admitted student” events on campus and compare/contrast other aspects of the schools where you were accepted (including financial aid awards).
❑ If you were wait listed, express interest to the school. Explore late admission possibilities at other colleges.
❑ Send a deposit by May 1st to accept a spot at the college of your choice!
❑ Seniors who aren’t going to college right away consider other post-grad options and finalize gap year plans.
❑ Continue to make an effort in class so grades don’t “droop” too much.
❑ Start planning the graduation party!
❑ Thank everyone who helped you apply to college (teachers, counselors, etc.).
❑ Open and respond promptly to communications from the college — information about housing, orientation, course registration, etc.
❑ Connect with future classmates (and perhaps find a roommate) through the college’s official social media sites.
❑ Study for finals and AP exams — end the year strong.
❑ Solidify summer plans (work? travel? study? volunteer?).
❑ Enjoy time with your friends and family and bask in the glow of your accomplishments at graduation!
❑ Junior year is over — you’re a senior now!
❑ Talk with parents/guardians about how college planning will fit into your summer.
❑ Research colleges using online tools like Naviance (if your high school uses it) and bigfuture (by The College Board).
❑ Begin narrowing your list of potential colleges.
❑ Schedule campus visits and interviews.
❑ Create a test prep plan if you will retake the ACT or SAT.
❑ Create an online Common Application account.
❑ Look at the Common App essay prompts and write a first draft of your essay.
❑ Make a spreadsheet of target schools with deadlines for Early and Regular Decision.
❑ What standardized tests do the schools require? Register for fall ACT or SAT test dates if needed.
❑ Research scholarships and make a list of some to apply for and what’s required.
❑ Have fun — it’s summer!
❑ Continue work on the Common App, including the essay plus any supplemental essays required by colleges you will apply to.
❑ Finish summer reading.
❑ Sign up for your fall counselor meeting. Make sure you will meet all graduation requirements.
❑ Decide which teachers you will ask to write recommendations.
❑ Look at the fall calendar — plan final campus visits/interviews.
❑ Get ready to have an amazing senior year!
❑ Attend local college fairs and dean visits at your high school.
❑ Research gap year possibilities.
❑ Decide if you will apply Early Decision or Early Action to your top choice school; alert your counselor and recommenders.
❑ Will you include an arts/athletic supplement or resume with your application? Work on this.
❑ Share a final draft of your Common App essay(s) with a trusted reader.
❑ Take a look at your social media presence.
❑ Enjoy your high school classes and extracurricular experiences (still your highest priority).
❑ Retake the SAT or ACT.
❑ Request alumni interviews, if available.
❑ Follow up with recommenders.
❑ ED and EA candidates prepare to submit applications by Nov. 1st or 15th!
❑ Begin gathering financial information and prepare to file taxes. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is now available as is the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE (required by many private schools and a few flagship state universities).
❑ Keep a calendar of what’s due when. Plan to submit applications before the due dates, preferably before winter vacation!
❑ Take advantage of priority deadlines — get your application considered sooner and increase eligibility for merit aid.
❑ Finalize a list of “good fit” colleges.
❑ Continue working on the Common Application and other applications and supplements.
❑ Attend financial aid and scholarship workshops at the high school.