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College Planning for High School Seniors

Stay on track with our month-by-month calendar for your senior year.

Fastweb Staff

March 29, 2021

Senior year is easily the most overwhelming for high school students, but staying organized will guarantee a solid finish.
College Planning for High School Seniors
It's your final year of high school, which is not only the time to celebrate your achievements but bulk up your resume and course schedule to show colleges and universities that you're a worthy candidate. Senior year is easily the most overwhelming for high school students; but staying organized will guarantee a solid finish, a good chance at your top choice college, and a year that you can look back on with satisfaction. As you prepare for the year ahead, it’s best to start with a “game plan.” Consider this calendar a great place to start, and feel free to edit so that it fits your schedule and goals. Let’s get college ready!
September

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• Request applications and brochures from your target colleges if you haven't already. It’s also a great time to do a virtual or in-person campus tour. • Schedule college interviews with prospective schools. These can either be done on-campus or when your prospective college’s admissions officer visits your area. To see when this might happen, email the admissions office or your regional representative directly. • Set up a budget for college application costs – they can add up. • Get your applications in order by creating files for your prospective schools. Make a list of application requirements (essays, transcripts, etc.) and deadlines for each. • Request letters of recommendation from teachers, advisors and employers. • Work on application essays. • Determine if you will apply Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision. Many Early Action and Early Decision deadlines occur as soon as October. If you plan to apply early, ramp up your college application efforts now! • Take the SAT or ACT if you’re applying to a college that requires a standardized test score. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges have gone test optional. Check to see if the colleges you plan to apply to are test-optional to determine whether or not you should sit for the tests. • Start gathering materials and financial records for the FAFSA, available on October 1. We recommend that students fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible. Many states and colleges distribute financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Be ready.
October
• File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1. • Talk to your parents about college cost. Decide how much you can afford, how much they plan to pay for, and explore your options for funding. • Request that transcripts be sent to your schools (if you’re applying Early Action or Early Decision, get your application in this month). • Visit Fastweb Financial Aid to learn more about financial aid. • Start applying for scholarships from private organizations. Check your Fastweb scholarships for new matches.
November
• Keep copies of all applications and forms sent to colleges. • Request test scores sent to colleges, if your college is accepting them. • Review the SAR (Student Aid Report) to make sure the information is correct. You should receive it 4-6 weeks after you submit your FAFSA (1-2 weeks if you submit your FAFSA electronically).
December
• Work on college applications! Many applications are due this month or in early January. • Find out when the SAT and ACT are offered and sign up, if you haven't taken them already or need to retake.
January
• Check with your prospective colleges about additional financial aid application forms and requirements. These supplemental forms may ask more in-depth questions about your financial circumstances. It will help your college build your financial aid package. • Send mid-year reports to colleges, if necessary. • Verify that your applications have been received by colleges. • Send thank-you notes to your recommendation sources, if you haven’t done so already. If you know your admissions decision at this point, it would be great to share the news!
February
• Check the mail for admissions letters and financial aid awards.
March-April
• Compare your admissions offers. Ask your guidance counselor to help you weigh your options. • Contact the financial aid office if you have any special financial aid circumstances. You can actually appeal your financial aid package if you feel that you should qualify for more aid to pay for school. This is a must if your family has experienced a significant change in financial circumstances, due to the COVID-19 pandemic! • If wait-listed, notify the admissions office if you're still interested. • Plan your summer internship, job or program. Start searching on Fastweb. • Time for a decision! Most schools ask that you choose your school by May 1.
May
• Notify (in writing) the schools you have decided not to attend. • Make sure you've received the necessary forms for housing, health insurance, financial aid, etc. • Pursue additional student loan options, if necessary. Check out Fasweb’s Student Loans Center to find the best option for you. • Notify colleges of any private scholarship awards.
June-August
• Have your final transcripts sent to your new school. • Research banking options near your college. • Double-check any final deadlines for housing, financial aid, etc. • Set up a projected first-year college budget. • Go shopping for dorm room essentials. • Connect with your roommate virtually or in-person and attend any summer gathering events with fellow students and alumni before you make your way to campus.

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