If you are applying as a regular decision/rolling admissions applicant, I suggest completing the common application during the month of August (when the upcoming yrs. common app. becomes available) along with a rough draft of the essay (from the common app.). In September, after the first two weeks of school have been completed, meet with your guidance counselor and share with them your status: list of schools you will be applying to, where you are in regard to your CA essay, that you have completed for the most part the CA and then ask them for your own schools process - each school is different when it comes to sending out profiles, transcripts, etc. If you can complete one supplement every two weeks starting in mid-Sept., you should be able to have everything out by mid-November.
Now I know that for some this may seem early but now you can sit down at Thanksgiving knowing that you have completed your part of the process. So,
Jr. year SAT/ACT Formulate college list Visit colleges
June of jr. yr. Request recs. from teachers
Summer of jr. to sr. yr. Complete CA Write CA essay Visit colleges
Continue SAT/ACT prep. if taking again
Sr. yr. (Fall) SAT/ACT Complete supplements Apply
Remind teachers about recs.
Sit for the PSAT in October ( hopefully you took them as a SOPHOMORE FOR PRACTICE -- remember these scores do not go on your transcript so no one sees these scores except you and your parents and your school counselor) and review the JUNIOR YEAR scores when they are returned to you in DECEMBER.
Based on your scores you will receive admission materials from colleges ( some you may never have heard of before). You can project a possible SAT score based on your PSAT. Make a decision when to sit for your first SAT and refine your list of schools based on your current GPA, class rank , possible SAT/ ACT score and your likes and dislikes of the colleges on your first list ( that first list should contain "dream schools" and at least 15 - 20 other schools ).
So, now it is after your first SAT and you have scores back , refine the list again. SPRING of your JUNIOR YEAR visit schools, and go to Open House programs.
If you cannot visit a school, go to your closest National College Fair, hosted by the National Association of College Admission Counseling, or your local high school fair and make connections. This is also the time to ask teachers for recommendations --remember the more popular the teacher the more students will ask for a recommendation.
If you have to sit for another SAT or ACT or Subject Tests in the SPRING, be sure to have a schedule worked out well in advance. I do not recommend visiting schools in the summer months ( few students on campus, no social activities).
If you have to visit schools/ interview in the FALL of your SENIOR YEAR (call the admission office in the summer to schedule these events). When you return back to school AS A SENIOR, double check with your teachers for recommendations and alert them if you are applying Early Action or Early Decision.
Make an appointment with your school counselor to review your final college list (if your counselor is at school in August, see them at that time).
Start the Common Application in August. FALL of your SENIOR YEAR work on your applications -- do something every day ( essay questions, personal statement, completing the application). Be sure you know that process for filing your applications with the Guidance Department - if applying online be sure to tell your school counselor, complete your release of records form for each school you are applying to in the fall.
Have a goal to have all apps out by November 1st. It is a busy time senior year, especially the first three months. Stick to your calendar, stay motivated, meet with your counselor as often as you need to, ask questions and do not get distracted. Be one of the first among your friends to complete all applications, and enjoy Thanksgiving and the holidays in December. Wait for the acceptances to start coming in!!
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