Welcome to the easy-browsing, ultra-informing College Checklist. Click on your year to get started.
 

Trial run.

Just think: This time next year, you’ll be starting classes at your new school. Exciting, right? Back in the here and now, this semester you’ll be tying up a lot of loose ends – from asking for recommendation letters to interviewing future classmates. Filing your FAFSA isn’t one of them, though. That comes in January. Can’t get to everything? Make sure to at least hit the first few.

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    Make a list. (Sort of like this one.)


     

    Sit down – and write down – all the test names, dates, fees, registration deadlines and deadlines for college admissions and financial aid applications you’ll need to be on time for. Trust us. You’ll be glad you did this.

    How to Make a To-Do List

     
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    Take (or re-take) the SAT.


    There’s still time to take the most important test of your high-school career. For specifics on exactly *what* time, talk to your counselor and get all the upcoming test dates. Registration materials, too.

    Note: You must take the test (and this goes for the ACT too, if that’s required by your potential colleges) at least six weeks before the deadline in order for your scores to be submitted to colleges.

    The College Board: When to Take the Test

     
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    Check your PROFILE™.


    You may have checked your eligibility for federal and alternative student loans back in Junior year, but now’s the time to register for the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE™ (which determines your qualification for aid) too. Many universities – especially private schools, including everyone from Adelphi to Yale – require this.

    The College Board: CSS/Financial Aid Profile

     
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    Craft your masterpiece.


     

    You’re going to need essays for those college admissions and scholarship applications, you know. Might as well start writing them now.

    What’s your story? What makes you tick? What makes you *interesting* and invaluable to have around? These aren’t questions you want to be answering in a hurry when the deadline’s approaching later.

    The College Board: Essay Skills

     
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    See your future in person.


     

    You’ve narrowed your college list to just the top three to five schools, right? Their representatives may be visiting your school (in which case you should go say hi, of course), but it’s also time for you to pay them a visit at their place if you haven’t already. Poke around. Get the catalogs and admissions info you need. You can even interview some students, faculty and staff to get a clearer picture of what life’s like there.


     
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    Gather financial aid materials.


    Find out which forms your college choices require and when those applications are due. (In addition to being on *this* list you’re reading now, all this info should also be on your master list, mentioned above.) Get those forms. Look them over carefully to make sure you’ve got everything they’ll need you to fill in.


     
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    Keep making contacts.


    Even if you’ve got your decision pretty well made, still take the opportunity to attend special programs such as college fairs and financial aid nights. You never know what might open your eyes even further.

    Need a hint about just such a college fair, which also happens to be fantastic? That would be CollegeWeekLive, which lets you visit your candidate schools virtually, chat live with their admissions reps and take a crack at millions in financial aid & scholarships. Coming up is the big Fall event in November. We’ll see you there!

    CollegeWeekLive

     
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    Approach your allies.


     

    Nothing completes your admission and/or scholarship application like a solid letter of recommendation. Go to teachers, guidance counselors, and employers who might be willing to sing your praises and ask them if they can help you out. 

    Seriously. Do this. Now. It’s way too easy to procrastinate on this, but if you do that you put yourself *and* your supporters at a disadvantage. Nobody wants to write – or have to rely on – a hastily thrown together recommendation.

     

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