There’s an old Chinese saying that goes, “The journey of a
thousand miles begins with a single step.” But no matter how unsure
you feel taking that first step, every single one after that will be a little
easier. It also helps if you have a plan to follow through your senior year—and
here it is.
For details on each step, see below.
- Sign up for the ACT if you didn't take it as a junior, or if you aren't satisfied with your score.
- Review ACT test results and retest if necessary.
- Visit with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements. Consider taking courses at a local university or community college.
- Keep working hard all year; second semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
- Ask for personal references from teachers, school counselors, or employers early in the year or at least two weeks before application deadline.
- Follow your school's procedure for requesting recommendations.
- Visit with admissions counselors who come to your high school.
- Attend a college fair.
- Begin your college essay(s).
- Apply for admission at the colleges you've chosen.
- Avoid common college application mistakes.
- Find out if you qualify for scholarships at each college where you have applied.
- Start the financial aid application process.
- See your school counselor for help finding financial aid and scholarships.
- If you need it, get help completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
- Ask your guidance office in January to send first semester transcripts to schools where you applied. In May, they will need to send final transcripts to the college you will attend.
- Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll.
- Decide which college to attend, and notify the school of your decision.
- Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork.
- Notify schools you will not attend of your decision.
- Continue to look for scholarship opportunities.
- Keep track of important financial aid and scholarship deadlines.
- Watch the mail for your Student Aid Report (SAR)—it should arrive four weeks after the FAFSA is filed.
- Compare financial aid packages from different schools.
- Sign and send in a promissory note if you are borrowing money.
- Notify your college about any outside scholarships you received.
- Make sure your final transcript is sent to the school you will be attending.
- Getting a summer job can help pay some of your college expenses.
- Make a list of what you will need to take with you for your dorm room.
- If you haven't met your roommate, call, write, or e-mail to get acquainted in advance.
- Make sure housing documentation is quickly accessible when you move into the dorm.
- Learn how to get around at your new school. Review a campus map.
- Wait until after your first class meeting to buy your books and supplies.