January College Prep Checklist for High School Seniors

Start the year (and the semester) off right with our high school senior checklist.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

December 29, 2022

January College Prep Checklist for High School Seniors
January is the start of a New Year and a new semester.
January is the start of a New Year and a new semester, which means you have the unique advantage of a fresh start in more than one way! How cool is that? Make sure you utilize this clean slate because it's not often that we're given such chances in life.

College Planning Checklist for High School Seniors

Here's a college checklist to follow with suggestions of ways you can start off January on a great note.

Fill Out & Submit Your FAFSA

The FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an important component of your college search and became available on October 1, 2022. It’s important to fill it out as soon as it becomes available because it not only determines whether or not you qualify for federal aid, but also for certain types of state financial aid. Bonus: Your parents can use their 2021 tax income returns. The sooner you fill out your FAFSA the better chances at earning state aid, before funds become limited. Learn more about filling out the FAFSA and, remember, it’s always free to fill out – so if you’re being charged to fill out the form, it’s not legitimate. The only correct FAFSA website to access the FAFSA is

Register for February Standardized Tests, If Necessary

Whether you feel prepared or not, over preparing is never a problem. Check out Fastweb’s test prep section for additional tips and tricks that may give you an added advantage on your test day. Also, check with the colleges and universities which you would send test scores to. Are they even considering test scores in their admissions decisions right now? Or have they gone test optional? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities are either still weighing test scores less or not at all. Learn more here.

Send Your First Semester Transcripts to Colleges You’ve Applied To

You won’t physically be sending these – but you should ask your counselor or guidance office to do so. Then, at the end of your second semester, you will ask your counselor or guidance office to send your second semester transcripts as well. It’s always a good idea to check in after a week or so to ensure that they’ve been sent, just because the office will have a lot of student requests. You want to make sure your request doesn’t fall through the cracks!

Focus on Your Second Semester Classes

Keep in mind that no matter how your first semester went, second semester is a fresh start. Colleges love to see continual improvement; and, if your grades pick up second semester, your chances of getting off a wait list or deferral list are that much better. At the same time, if your grades take a drastic turn for the worse during second semester, colleges can actually rescind their admission decision. So whether or not you feel like putting in the work, you can't shrug off your homework assignments, writing papers and studying for big exams. Treat this semester like you would any other. Pay attention in class, keep up with your homework assignments, and do your best on every exam.

Avoid Senioritis

Speaking of shrugging off your may have heard about Senioritis and laughed it off – but it’s the real deal. It causes a lack of motivation, general laziness and lethargy. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to become a victim of senioritis – it will impact your chances of getting into the college of your dreams! Just see the above. You will find that at the end of the semester, your teachers will generally be looser with assignments and tests. They are well aware that you have quite a bit going on right now. But while class is clipping along at its regular speed, make sure you are, too.

Update your Fastweb Profile and Apply for Scholarships

When was the last time you updated your Fastweb profile? Updating your profile with new information can actually increase the amount of scholarships you see in your matches. For instance, you could get a scholarship just because your parents work with a specific employer in our scholarship database. Take advantage of these opportunities by updating your profile now. As always, continue to apply to scholarships for high school seniors that you qualify for in your down time. Submitting scholarship applications doesn’t take as long as you may think and has a huge pay off! Check out these 2023 scholarships. This should be a constant on your to do list – just make sure you actually submit your scholarship applications. College is right around the corner and you can use all of the financial assistance available. Remember, the more applications you submit, the better your chances of winning a scholarship.

Get a Part-Time Job

Getting a part-time job is a great way to gain job experience for your resume and help stretch your student budget. But, did you know that a part-time job can also help you pay for school? Whether you work part-time on or near campus during the school year or a seasonal job during breaks from school, you can utilize the money from your paychecks to help pay for college. Furthermore, many employers offer their employees scholarships -- here are just a few examples of employer tuition reimbursement. If you're searching for a part-time job opportunity, try to be strategic about where you end up. They could help you pay for college.

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