College Application Checklist for High School Seniors

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College Application Checklist for High School Seniors

SAT checklist

The final year of high school always seems like a whirlwind of moving parts. In addition to maintaining stellar GPAs, planning prom, and many other responsibilities, high school seniors need to finish the college application process. With so many moving parts involved, many high school seniors lose track of applications, miss important deadlines, or forget to include essential items in application packages.

To that end, the admission experts at TestPrepScore compiled a month-by-month checklist to keep high school seniors on track.

Tasks Completed Before Senior Year

  • Create an account on application platforms like College Board.
  • Make a list of potential colleges you would like to attend.
  • Complete a first attempt at the SAT or ACT.
  • Make sure your resume is up-to-date and continue updating it throughout the year.
  • Discuss careers and which majors can lead there.


  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT.
  • Review college applications: Create a calendar to track the key pieces of information, such as:
    • Eligibility Requirements
    • Application Deadlines
    • Financial Aid Deadlines
    • Acceptance Deadlines
  • Brainstorm college essay topics for your application.
  • Register for College Tours: Meet with college representatives who visit your school, attend local college fairs, and visit campuses.


  • If necessary, register for the SAT or ACT.
  • Meet with your high school guidance counselor to confirm you’re still on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements.
    • Ask your counselor about Fee Waivers for college applications.
  • Begin drafting your admission essay.
  • Narrow down your list of colleges.
  • Request Letters of Recommendation from teachers, school counselors, or employers.
  • Continue to complete high school graduation requirements and earn high grades.


  • File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to determining your eligibility for federal funds, many colleges and states use the form when distributing grants.
  • Confirm Application Deadlines: Some colleges will have deadlines (rolling, priority, early decision, and early action) as early as this month.
  • Complete and submit Early Decision/Early Action applications with November deadlines to College Guidance by the set due date.
  • Revise & proofread your admission essay.
  • Follow up with your teachers regarding letters of recommendation.
  • Investigate Scholarship Opportunities: Ask your counselor, the colleges, and local religious and civic groups about scholarships.


  • Check your College Board account to confirm college received your test scores.
  • If needed, register for the January SAT.
  • Ask your guidance office to send first semester transcripts to colleges. At the end of the school year, they must send final transcripts to the college you choose.


  • Check with colleges or application status portals to confirm they received the necessary materials.
  • Gather the data needed for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Continue to submit all Regular Decision college applications before the set deadline for priority review.


  • Finish and submit your FAFSA form after January 1st, and as soon as possible.


  • Review your acceptance letters, compare financial aid packages, and consider your final choices.
  • If admission officers placed you on the waitlist, make sure to visit, call, and write the admission office to further establish your strong interest.
  • Complete any lingering scholarship applications.
  • Register or prepare for AP exams.


  • Visit colleges that sent you acceptance letters.


  • Contact the financial aid office at your chosen school to confirm your completed application.
  • After receiving an acceptance letter from your first-choice school, notify them about your commitment to enroll, and submit the required deposit by May 1st.
  • Maintain or improve your senior grades. Don’t succumb to senioritis!


  • Take the AP exams.
  • Ask your guidance counselor to submit your final transcript to the college you plan on attending.
  • If you are deferring your acceptance, follow your college’s deferral policy.


  • Celebrate your high school graduation!
  • Start shopping or packing for college!