College Deadlines: What to Expect and When to Expect it
Published on Aug 2, 2021 by Ali Datko
You may be wrapping up high school, but don’t miss these important dates in the college application process.
Are you eager to find your dream job, and are considering higher ed as a first step in achieving that goal? If so, now is the time to get serious about planning for college. Although a few schools (like Full Sail) accept applications year-round, most traditional universities adhere to strict deadlines. Here are some timeline planning tips to help you stay on track no matter where you decide to apply.
Use your junior year to hone and prove your academic skills. Not only will colleges take your coursework into consideration, but you will also prepare yourself for the rigors of application-writing and for performing well once you have been accepted.
Fall & Winter: Sign up for Advanced Placement (AP) courses that can minimize the amount of time (and money) you spend in college.
In October, you should take the PSAT and/or PreACT to better prepare yourself for college entrance exams. If your scores are not as high as you would like, consider taking subject tests or a prep course for either exam.
Spring: Beginning in May, you will take AP exams for each AP course you took, and these can provide college credits toward the university of your choice.
Be aware that each university may have differing policies on awarding credits and it is important to research how these policies can affect you.
Take the SAT/ACT (you can always retake it, so it is best to start early and see whether you will want to try again). While most colleges and universities do not prefer one test over the other, both exams are used for admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships and different enough that a student may find taking one more advantageous than the other.
Use online databases available for students to research and discover scholarships as early as their freshman year. By having this information early, you can better focus your efforts on making sure that you are a prime candidate for the scholarships that will work best for you.
Search for colleges and create a list of the ones you would like to apply to. Once you have found some that interest you the most, plan visits to those campuses to see if they match your needs or attend a college fair (in person or online) to meet representatives from multiple institutions in one place.
In your senior year of high school, it is critical to prioritize tasks that will have the greatest effect on your college admissions. For example, it makes sense for some students to retake the SAT/ACT, but for others it may not be the best use of their time if their scores are in within an acceptable range.
Fall: Register for the SAT/ACT if you have not taken it already or if you have decided to retake the exam. Ask teachers for letters of recommendation. Complete the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Determine the requirements for each college on your list and submit any early-deadline applications, transcripts, and test scores by their respective due dates.
Winter: Submit remaining college applications and paperwork (most schools require these before February). Explore financial aid options and search for scholarships to apply toward your education if you have not already.
If you have any concerns about academic preparation or financial aid options, reach out to your high school counselor, academic advisor, or even the financial aid office of one of the schools you have applied to for additional information and resources.
Spring: If you have chosen to apply to traditional colleges, by now you will likely have received your acceptance letters. If you have been accepted to multiple schools, choose the one that best fits your academic and financial needs. Respond to them all, whether you are accepting or declining. Finally, talk to your college representative about living arrangements and any other questions you may have about transitioning to your new campus.
Applying to college is a big undertaking, but by planning carefully and paying close attention to deadlines, it can be a relatively smooth process — and one that yields rewarding results.
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