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Pro Advice

College Deadlines: What to Expect and When to Expect it

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.

Junior Year

Use your junior year to hone and prove your academic skills. Not only will colleges take your coursework into consideration, but you’ll also prepare yourself for the rigors of application-writing and for performing well once you’ve been accepted.

Fall & Winter: Sign up for challenging courses and, in October, take the PSAT. If your scores aren’t as high as you’d like, consider taking SAT subject tests or an SAT prep course.

Spring: Take the SAT. (You can always retake it, so it’s best to start early and see whether you’ll want to try it again.) Search for colleges that match your needs, and create a list of the ones you’d like to apply to. Plan visits to the campuses that interest you the most.

Senior Year

In your senior year of high school, it’s 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, but for others it may not be the best use of their time.

“If your standardized test scores are in an acceptable range,” writes professional tutor Brian Witte in an article for U.S. News & World Report, “consider spending time instead on the essential components of your applications, such as the personal statement or letters of recommendation.”

Fall: Register for the SAT if you haven’t yet, or if you have decided to take it again. 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 (and 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.

Spring: If you’ve chosen to apply to traditional colleges, by now you will likely have received your acceptance letters. If you’ve been accepted to multiple schools, choose the one that best fits your academic and financial needs. Respond to them all, whether you’re 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.

Full Sail University

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