December College Prep Checklist for High School Seniors

High schools seniors, stay on track with this college application checklist.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

November 27, 2023

December College Prep Checklist for High School Seniors
There’s so much to do and the winter season is no exception.
Baby, it's cold outside - but that's no excuse to neglect your college search! There’s so much to do, and the winter season (no matter how frigid the temperature may be) is no exception. Here are some suggestions of what you can work on this month to get ahead. You'll be happier to do a little work now, rather than combine ALL of the work at the end of application season.

College Prep Checklist for High School Seniors


If your application is nearly done, make sure you tie up those loose ends so you can really relax over the holidays. Double check that your college application is ready to go and send it in if you’re ready. If it’s not ready, dedicate an hour or two before your holiday break to checking off those last to-dos.
If you have submitted your college application, follow up with the college admissions committee to be sure they have everything they need to evaluate their admission decision.

Give Thanks to Those Who Helped

You have come a long way, but remember you've had a lot of support, too. Your parents, teachers and guidance counselors deserve a thank you, don’t you agree? A nicely written note will brighten someone’s day and show how much you appreciate their help.

Remember Celebration Etiquette

Remember that just because you’re finished with applications, doesn't mean your friends are. It’s best to keep the celebration to a minimum so that others can successfully finish their applications, too. Celebrate with a quick social media story or a meal at home with your family.

Don’t Check Out!

Even though you’re finished with the application process, you still have to maintain the same student status as when you applied. Colleges still care about the rest of your senior year, so no slacking off!
It’s true: some colleges may ask for a final transcript your senior year to ensure that you still put in the work. Pay attention in class, complete your assignments, and study for tests. But allow yourself a little grace to relax as well.

Still Applying?

Here are some tasks you absolutely don't want to forget about.

Re-evaluate Your College List

Ensure you have safety schools on your list, both financially and in terms of admissions. Narrow down the rest of the schools on your list so you prioritize applications for the schools you can actually see yourself attending versus applying for random schools you’d never actually attend. Now is not the time to add more to your workload. That’s why reevaluating your college list can help you whittle down unnecessary work and focus on the schools and the to-do list that are most important.

Be Prepared for Your Worst-Case Scenario

Make sure you consider all the possibilities. What if you’re rejected or wait-listed at the schools you most wanted? Though the worst-case scenario rarely happens, having a plan in place will have you prepared in any given situation. Make sure you apply to at least one target school (a school that matches your academic performance and financial circumstances) as well as one safety school (a school you KNOW you can get into and afford).

Ensure Your Test Scores Were Sent

Test scores should be officially sent from the College Board or ACT to all the schools you’re applying to. Don’t forget that a lot of schools won’t even consider your application until they have your test scores, unless they are a test blind school.

Focus on the Small Details

Don’t forget to read between the lines when applying. It’s easy to focus on the big essay questions, but don’t let the minor details fall through the cracks. All of the details will factor into your acceptance, not just the major college essay. Taking extra precaution to not make mistakes shows the school that you are truly interested, rather than carelessly copying and pasting essays onto every application. Once you’re done with the process, try not to stress. At this point, it's out of your hands. What is in your hands right now? Completing any remaining financial aid forms and scholarship applications. Focus on applying to scholarships for the Class of 2024 to help you pay for college. Enjoy the rest of your senior year knowing you did your best during the application process, and be proud of your efforts. You’ll be college-bound in no time, and the entire application process will be in the past soon enough.

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