High School Senior Checklist - Click Here
College Admission and Financial Aid Printable Checklist
During the summer, soon-to-be seniors should:
- Continue college visits.
- Narrow down the colleges being considered.
- Complete and submit scholarship applications prior to deadlines.
- Make decisions regarding early decision or early action programs.
- Enter and/or update information in the FAFSA4caster.
In fall semester, seniors will need to:
- Think about what you want to do after graduation. Do you plan to get a full-time job, join the military, or enter an educational program at a technical school, two or four-year college? If further education is one of your options, consider which type of college or technical school is right for you (two or four-year, large or small, public or private, near home or far away).
- Visit schools and narrow down your choices. Visit schools’ websites for information on course catalogs, admission applications, housing, and financial aid.
- If your ACT and/or SAT scores need improving, register to take the exam again. If you have not taken any admissions tests, register online now!
- Make a list of five to ten schools you like the most.
- Take a college tour. You have five days allotted during your senior year for college visits.
- Revise and update your school list based on visits.
- Complete applications well before stated deadlines. Be sure to complete a written request for an official transcript to be sent to each school where you apply.
- Many schools have limited housing so apply early. Each school has its own application. (most are on applytexas.org)
- Keep copies of all forms you send.
- Start contacting people to write letters of recommendation. Be sure to contact anyone writing a recommendation letter at least two weeks prior to the date the letter is needed. Allow a few extra days for mailing.
- Get information on scholarship requirements for the schools that interest you.
- Begin working on your resume.
- Research careers and determine what type of training or education you need to qualify for careers that interest you.
- Talk with recruiters from all branches of the military so you can compare the programs they offer.
- As early as October 1, complete and submit the FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov. You will use your parents’ previous year tax information to apply for any state and federal grants or supplemental loans.
- Complete the request for your FSA ID in order to electronically sign your FAFSA.
- Set up campus visits at the top three or four schools of your choice. Be sure to meet with departmental advisors, students, and financial aid officers and complete interviews.
- Continue to complete applications. Don’t forget to request a transcript!
- Go to Fastweb.com, scholarshipowl.com, collegeboard.com, unigo.com for scholarship opportunities.
- Complete any additional scholarship requirements necessary for each particular school or organization.
- Narrow down the type of job you are interested in and continue to work on your resume.
- Complete your admission testing (SAT/ACT) and college applications. Be sure that all necessary documents have been received by the school’s admissions office prior to the stated deadline. Allow time for mailing!
- Continue to obtain, complete and send scholarship applications.
- Now that you have met with the military recruiters and compared their programs, choose which one or two best fit your needs. See these recruiters again and get very specific when asking them questions.
- Watch out for admissions and scholarship deadlines! Some are as early as December 1st.
- Check on the status of your application for admission.
- Keep in touch with your military recruiter.
During the winter months, seniors should:
- Work with parents to complete and submit the FAFSA.
- Review and make any necessary changes/corrections to the Student Aid Report.
- Finish submitting scholarship applications.
In spring semester, seniors will need to:
- Request seven semester transcripts to be sent to the schools to which you have applied.
- If you are enrolled in AP classes, register for your AP exams.
- Check with your school counselor about local scholarships.
- Review acceptance letters and financial award packages. Make your final decision on the school you want to attend and submit your deposit.
- Notify other schools that you will not attend.
- Complete local scholarship applications and return to the counseling office before the stated deadline.
- Keep in touch with military representatives concerning the status of your ROTC application.
- Keep working in all your classes. Slacking off could keep you from graduating! Pay close attention to your attendance as well.
- Watch for replies regarding scholarships, awards, and other sources of financial aid for which you have applied.
- If you have not already done so, reply to the school you have decided to attend. Let the other institutions that have accepted you know that you will not be attending.
- Be sure you are keeping your grades up and watching your attendance.
- Write thank you notes for scholarships and awards received.
- Be sure to provide your scholarship donor(s) with your contact information and the name and address of the school you will attend.
- Stay current on all graduation information and procedures.
- Apply for that full-time job or a summer job if you need only temporary employment.
- Complete a request for your final transcript to be sent to the school you will be attending.
- Keep working in your classes until the last test is completed.
- HAPPY GRADUATION!
Although the temptation to goof off during the last year of high school may be strong, students should be made aware that college admissions officers will expect to see that they’ve worked hard to keep grades up and continued their involvement in school and community activities. Reassure your aspiring college student that he or she can still enjoy life and time with friends while remaining focused on larger goals.
Admissions: What Counts
There's no magic formula when it comes to college admission decisions. So how do you advise students on admission factors when they vary so widely from one college to the next?
Students can use College Search to find profiles for colleges of interest. College Search provides information on the college's first-year students, including the admitted students' SAT® and ACT score ranges and the percentage of students in the top of their class.
A college's statistics should never be taken as rules for admission, though.
Students should know that many factors influence admission decisions, including:
- Courses taken
- Grades received
- Class rank
- Standardized test scores
- Personal statements and essays
- Extracurricular activities
Which factors most affect the admission decision?
Many small, selective colleges pay greater attention to personal statements and essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, leadership experiences and the individual talents of applicants. They typically offer the chance for a face-to-face interview.
Large, public state university systems often use a mathematical formula based on a student's grade point average (GPA) and scores on the SAT or ACT. They tend to favor in-state applicants.
Regardless of the college's evaluation system, your students should present a well-rounded picture of their skills, experience and personal traits. Applications should highlight their ability to succeed at each particular institution and what they can contribute to student life on campus.
Courses and grades
A student's grades in college-preparatory classes remain the most significant factor in college admission decisions.
Highly selective colleges look for students who:
- Complete core academic requirements.
- Take more challenging classes, even though they may have slightly lower grades than they'd achieve in lower-level courses.
- Enroll in several college-prep or college-level courses (such as AP®) and perform well.
- Take four years of a world language, showing evidence of academic discipline and challenge.
Although still reviewed by many colleges, class rank has declined in significance as many private and religious schools have eliminated student ranking.
Standardized test scores remain important at many colleges. Examinations such as the SAT and SAT Subject Tests™, or the ACT, allow colleges to compare students from across the country.
Personal statements and essays are both a measure of writing ability and a window into each student's background. Admission officers want to hear an original voice in the student's own words. For a successful essay, encourage students to get to the point quickly and personalize their writing through specific examples.
Recommendations from counselors and teachers
At selective colleges, strong school support in the form of recommendations from counselors and faculty members has become more important than ever. These recommendations should be highly specific, describing not just each student's love of learning, but the ways in which the students have demonstrated that they can
- Add to the classroom experience.
- Challenge themselves.
- Attempt original projects.
Evidence of extracurricular activities is important to the admission process, and depth of involvement is more impressive than breadth. Students can achieve this if they
- Focus on a limited number of interests.
- Document long-term involvement with organizations.
- Highlight activities related to a major or career goal.
- Show leadership skills and ability.
Additional factors to consider
Many colleges set aside spaces for students who may not meet traditional criteria but will add to the class diversity. Geographic location, racial or ethnic background, extenuating or unusual life circumstances and experience living or studying overseas may all be influential. Evidence suggests that in some cases applying early decision may also increase the chances of admission.
***If you are not planning on attending college - what plan do you have?***
- Which career field will you be going into?
- Does your endorsement help you get into this career?
- Build your resume
- Look for volunteer/leadership opportunities that help build your resume
- Does your career have internship opportunities?
- Create a financial plan (food, rent, car, insurance, cell phone, medical, etc...)