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  • Your Plan to Get Into College

A Fall Get-Into-College Plan for Seniors

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Feeling overwhelmed with all you need to do to apply to college? Don’t worry! Here are some of the key tasks to complete this fall.

1. Meet with your counselor to review your college list and essay.

Beginning of senior year is a good time to meet with your high school guidance counselor or other college prep professional to discuss your college plans. If you don’t have a complete “college list” yet, get your counselor’s input on colleges that might be a good match for you and be sure to mention any colleges you’re interested in or curious about. Your counselor has an objective view of your strengths and your chances at the colleges you are considering. Your counselor might also suggest additional colleges that might be a good match for you. Start searching for colleges now with College Match.

Discuss your college essay with your counselor--especially if you wrote a first draft over the summer. If not, see 6 Tips to Start Your College Essay.

2. Ask your counselor about application fee waivers, if necessary.

College application fees can be expensive and add up quickly. If you cannot afford fees for applications or tests, you might be eligible for a fee waiver. Ask your counselor how to qualify and apply. See Getting College Application Fees Waived for additional information.

3. Set up a calendar for admissions and financial aid application deadlines.

To stay on top of application, financial aid, scholarship, admissions test and other deadlines, create a calendar for yourself, whether it is hard-copy calendar posted on your wall or using an app on your phone (see CollegeData’s Deadlines mobile app). If organization isn’t your forte, see some tried-and-true methods for organizing your college applications.

4. Submit financial aid application forms, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), as soon as possible after October 1.

It’s important to apply for financial aid as early as possible because some colleges award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis. In fact, in some cases, students who apply for financial aid between October 1 and December 31 receive more in subsidized loans, grants and scholarships than students who apply after December 31.

Equally important is the College Board’s CSS Profile, which is an online application that collects information used by almost 400 colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government. Find state financial aid deadlines here.

5. Take the SAT or the ACT again if you want to improve your scores.

You should have at least one more chance to take the ACT or SAT in the fall of your senior year, although be sure to check with the colleges to which you are applying for the last SAT and ACT they will accept for early decision, early action and regular admission. If you miss the test deadlines, consider looking at test-optional colleges.

6. Ask for recommendation letters from teachers, counselors, or others, if needed.

Be sure to ask for recommendation letters well in advance of their due date so that you give your teachers, guidance counselors and other recommenders enough time to write your recommendation letter. Remember, your teachers and counselors are busy people who are writing recommendations for other students. To make it easier for them, write down all your accomplishments and academic achievements in a college resume format. Don’t forget to follow up with your recommenders at least once before the letter is due to make sure they have everything they need.

7. Complete and submit any early applications.

Some early action or early decision deadlines occur as early as October 1. Make sure you’ve considered the pros and cons of applying early and understand the different types of early admission programs.

Download the entire Get-Into-College Plan for Senior Year.

The information contained on the CollegeData website is for general informational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content contained on the CollegeData website without consulting with your parents, high school counselors, admissions representatives or other college counseling professionals. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on the CollegeData website.

What's Next?

Download the entire Get-Into-College Plan for Senior Year and see what you need to do during the fall, winter, spring, and summer.

If you want to dive right in and start searching for colleges, use College Match to find colleges that meet just about any criteria you can imagine, from where you want to live to what you want to study.