October Checklist for High School Seniors

This year, take the time at the beginning of each month to evaluate what you can do to continue your focus on the college admissions process.

Elizabeth Hoyt

September 28, 2016

October Checklist for High School Seniors

It’s hard to believe it, but the first semester of your senior year is underway. It’s fall and the college application process is in full gear.

Now that you’re settled in your senior year classes, it’s time to really start focusing on both the college applications and admissions processes.

While it may seem daunting, it’s much more manageable once broken down into a task list. This year, take the time at the beginning of each more to evaluate what you can do to continue your focus on the college admissions process.

Here’s what high school seniors should do throughout the month of October in terms of the college applications, admissions and planning processes:

Focus on Your Grades

Although your grades will no longer significantly impact your grade point average, that does not mean you can stop trying. Your grades still matter in terms of college admissions!

College admissions officers will definitely want to see you senior year grades and you will need to keep those grades up to remain admitted to whichever school you decide upon. Showing continual improvement will also improve your chances of admission into your top school choices.

Exercise Time Management Skills

At this point in the semester, you have a pretty solid idea of what each class’s demands are. Now is the time to start practicing balance – a skill you will need to utilize throughout your entire college career and life.

Start Narrowing Your College List

While it’s easy to place this on your general “things to do” list, it’s vital that you actually to do. It’s important that you actually schedule time to think about schools and research them.

Set aside some time each week to devote to narrowing down your list of colleges through thought, research and debate.

With this time set aside, you should eventually narrow down your list to somewhere between six and eight colleges that vary in difficulty of admissions (your “safety,” “match,” and “reach” schools) .

Here’s the breakdown of the school categories:

Safety: the school you are almost positive, based on admissions criteria, you will be admitted to because your academic credentials are well above the average incoming freshman’s range. You do not plan of attending this school, rather, it is seen as your back-up. However, you should feel comfortable attending this college, should you need to. At this school, you will most likely fall at the top of the class.

Match: the school you are quite likely, based on admissions criteria, you will be admitted to because your academic credentials are well within the average incoming freshman’s range. This is the college you are most likely to attend. At this school, you will most likely fall within the mid-range of the class.

Reach: this school is a called a reach school because it’s possible, but not guaranteed. Your reach school shouldn’t be a pipe dream, it should be somewhat within reason (for example, if you have a 2.5 and are applying to Georgetown, it’s not a reach school – it’s a dream school). Your academic credentials usually fall below the average incoming freshman’s range.

Consider if Early Admissions are for You (If Yes, Get Started on Early Applications!)

What to Consider:

Have you considered early decision, early action or rolling admissions yet? If not, the time is now.

It’s important to be aware that some of the decisions can be binding, such as early decision. You want to be certain that, when applying early decision, for example, you’re sure that you want absolutely want to attend the college if admitted.

There are plenty of pros and cons to early admissions, which you should evaluate before pursuing these routes.

If Yes:

If you do decide that early admissions options are right for you, it’s time to work on your early applications. Many deadlines fall between October and November, so now is the time to focus on finishing up your early applications for submission.

Obtain Letters of Recommendation

If you have not already obtained letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches and other important people within your life to include within your college applications, reach out and ask as soon as possible. The more notice you give, the better.

A letter of recommendation can speak to your character as a student and, though isn’t always required, is a valuable asset.

Start Finalizing Your College Essays

While some of your college application essay prompts may differ, many of them will be quite similar. It’s important that you perfect your essays by proofreading them through the editing process.

Also, take the time to ask others to read them. Extra sets of eyes on your writing can make all the difference in the world, especially on a body of writing you have been working so closely with.

Request Application Fee Waivers Through Your Counselor (If Applicable)

Many colleges waive application fees for qualifying students. If you’d like to have your application fees waived, speak with your school counselor sooner than later so that the inquiry won’t slow down your application submission process.

Gather Any Required Documents

As you’re researching the colleges you’re thinking of applying to and finalizing your list, note what each college requires in terms of documentation for the application process.

That way, you can gather all of the necessary materials ahead of time in order to make your application process as smooth as possible by having everything you need accessible.

Fill Out the Common Application

Set aside time to fill out the Common Application thoroughly. Many colleges use the Common Application in place of an individualized school application, so filling out the Common App will save you a lot of time and effort, allowing you to apply to a lot more colleges. Bonus: it’s free!

Double Check Your Transcripts

Before your school submits your transcripts to any college, you want to make sure they are, in fact, your transcripts. You also want to ensure that all of your credits appear and that they are accurate. Don’t assume that everything is correct – administration errors happen more often than you may think! You don’t want a clerical error to stand in the way of your future – or admission to the school of your dreams.

Keep Applying for Scholarships

As always, it’s important to stay focused on your scholarship applications. College is right around the corner and, with hefty tuition bills headed your way, extra scholarship money will certainly come in handy.

Apply for as many scholarships as you qualify for and don’t get discouraged when you don’t win right away. Scholarship winners will tell you: persistence is often the key to winning.

Follow the above suggestions for a productive October in your senior year of high school to remain on track in your college applications and admissions processes.

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