November is a pivotal time of year for high school seniors - and we’re not just talking turkey. More than likely, it’s the month where any of your early admission applications are due. It’s also the month you need to start paying attention to upcoming deadlines for each college you’re planning to submit an application. Make sure that you have all of your deadlines clearly outlined on your calendar (don’t worry – this is on your checklist, too) so that you don’t miss any important deadlines for submitting your admission, financial aid and scholarship applications. Class of 2021, here is your personalized checklist to help you keep track of what to do during the November to stay on top of your college admissions process:
November Checklist for High School Seniors:
- If you’ve decided to apply early admission to a particular school, finalize and send whichever applications are due this month. Always make sure to have a parent, teacher, counselor or other adult review your application before it is submitted. It’s best to get an extra set of eyes to ensure that everything is included.
- Finalize your application essays. You've been working tirelessly on your college essays for quite some time (hopefully). It's time to finalize them. Again, allow someone else to look over them for the last time - your parents, teachers or counselors would make great proofreaders.
- Find out your school’s procedures for sending official transcripts – and take action. All colleges you’re applying to will require your official high school transcripts. Make sure you know what your school’s policies are and get the ball rolling so that your school is able to send your official transcripts in a timely manner.
- Double check that testing companies have sent your scores directly to the colleges to which you are applying. Double check that your ducks are in a row and that your scores have been sent to all of the schools you are applying to. Also, make sure you’ve checked beforehand that you’ve taken the right standardized tests for each college you’re applying since different colleges require different exams.
- If necessary, register to take or retake the SAT, SAT Subject Tests or ACT. Do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if this is still on your to do list! Note: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some communities are not offering the SAT or ACT. If that’s the case in your community, reach out to your colleges of interest to learn more about their policy regarding standardized tests this year. Also, consider applying to colleges that are going test optional.
- It’s time to finalize your college list. Using the information you’ve gathered from your college visits and interviews with students and admission officers to make your college application list. Your number should fall somewhere between five and eight colleges. Consider applying to a mix of reach, target and safety schools. Once you have decided on your list, go over it with your guidance counselor, teachers, and parents about your decisions.
- Keep track of ALL deadlines. This is the year of deadlines. Create a “deadline calendar” showing the application deadlines for admission, financial aid and scholarships so that you’ll never miss a date.
- Start preparing your application materials and then apply! Ensure you follow all instructions and double check that materials have been submitted as well: recommendation letters, transcripts, test scores, etc. Make extra copies before you send them so that you can keep track of where you’ve applied already. Applying before winter break may be a good plan so that you’re not rushing to meet deadlines over the holidays.
- Check in with your guidance counselor to ensure you’re on track for admissions requirements, graduation requirements and to discuss financial aid options. Staying in the loop with your guidance counselor is the best way to make sure you’re on track in all aspects of your academic career.
- Start thinking about financial aid. If you haven’t already done so, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which became available on October 1. You can find what you need to fill out the FAFSA on Fastweb, on the FAFSA website, or you can talk to your counselor. Also, check in with each school you play to apply to and check to see if they require a supplemental financial aid form. Some schools require these forms in order to get a better picture of family financial circumstances. Note: This is especially important this year as changes to finances that happened as a result of the ongoing pandemic may not be reflected on the FAFSA.
- Attend financial aid workshops with your parents. Attending a financial aid workshop is a great idea for both you and your parents to gain a better understanding of how the process works and what aid is available.It's also a great idea to learn more about student loans at this point in the process, should you find yourself in need of them once scholarships and financial aid packages have been distributed.
- Make sure you continue to stay on track with your grades and your extracurricular activities. Colleges will continue to look at what you’ve done in your senior year after you’ve submitted your application. Maintain your GPA in your courses and stay committed to any extracurricular activities you’ve been involved with so that your admission is never in jeopardy!
- Always continue your scholarship search. Keep in mind that the time after you’ve sent your college applications is one of the best times to focus on your scholarship applications. Apply for scholarships from local organizations, your scholarship matches on Fastweb, and scholarships that are specific to your school or intended degree program. You can find these by asking a financial aid administrator about opportunities at your college choices. Apply for scholarships as deadlines approach and continually search for more scholarship and grant opportunities. Never give up as this should be a continual process throughout your academic career!