For High School Seniors, this year, particularly the Fall, deadlines will be what they live by. While making sure school assignments are in on time, these next months are filled with non negotiable calendar dates for the college application process.
Standardized Tests (SAT, SAT II, ACT)
Keep in mind test dates for standardized testing are firm (SAT, SAT II, ACT). All testing dates come with registration dates (kind of like making a plane reservation very far in advance with no discount), and if applying for accommodations, there are two dates to keep in mind; one for accommodations request, and once that request comes in, the other to register for test dates (once accommodations are approved, there is no need to apply again). However, double check, as policies change from year to year.
Subject Tests, as a general rule should follow the course taken so students have the knowledge fresh in their minds (these tests often are aligned with AP course work and will work well with IB course work and Honors courses with some prep). Subject Tests are needed at very competitive schools. Contact your counselor for details. Not everyone needs to take Subject Tests.
AP and IB Exams
AP and IB Exams generally take place in May. Life will get hectic with study schedules. These exams are paramount for those wanting places at schools abroad, credit at US universities, and for IB Diploma.
College Application Time
Rather than use just an electronic calendar application, it might be a wise idea to use a family calendar in a central location so there can always be a visual reminder of every deadline looming ahead.
Fall to Holiday Time
- Students should know which colleges are their safety, target and reach, and what their deadlines will be. That is, will students apply Early Decision, Early Action (EA) or Regular Decision. Early Decision (ED) is often November 1 or November 15 (binding application), Early Action dates are often the same dates as ED, but those applications are not binding, but some schools do have caveats, so check with the school’s website. Regular Decision can be December 31 or often mid-January.
- Keep in mind your high school vacation times: Thanksgiving closure, Winter holiday closure, national holidays; these are days counselors are generally unavailable. If living internationally, country holidays can often close your counseling office, and your counselors may be unavailable.
- Remember to register for those final standardized testing dates. Check with the universities to see when the last date schools will accept these test scores.
- Gathering materials: Letters of recommendation, when to ask for transcripts, portfolios, any material a school might ask for (i.e. audition tapes, resume, etc.). Find out from your high school when THEIR application deadline will be (remember, they will shut down during certain holiday periods and some schools close the application period after a certain date, and school counselors may not be required to to respond to student emails)
- Federal Student Aid: Starting October 1, Federal Student Aid application will be available to you and your parents (FAFSA)
- Complete the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which is on line and used by some colleges to determine eligibility for their aid dollars
- Give your teachers plenty of lead-time for Letters of Recommendation. Hopefully, you asked them in Spring of Junior Year
- Get all essays completed – give yourself time, as you will need to draft draft draft and will want to have assistance with revision and edits
- Complete your applications by November if possible, there is nothing better than being done by Thanksgiving
- Keep copies of everything-back everything up
- Give your counselor the proper forms for second semester grades, as colleges generally wish to see these
- Keep active all through senior year- in other words no “Senior Slump”. Colleges have been known to reverse decisions based on bad grades or behavior. Students who have had a downturn in grades have also been placed on probation at the start of the school year.
- Attend all college nights, even if working with an Independent Educational Consultant
- Think how great you will feel once everything is complete!
- Remember that May 1 is reply date for Early Action and Regular Decision (Early Decision is binding, so you will have made that commitment in December and will have to pull any application submitted to college)
Important SAT Testing information:
Important ACT Testing Information:
For both ACT and SAT, read with care their requirements, and note that their requirements are fluid and can change.