Hands writing in planner covered in colored tabs, next to paper calendar

A Comprehensive 2-Year Calendar for High School Juniors and Seniors

Junior and senior year are the big years in your college planning journey. Check out this handy timeline so you know what to do and when to do it.

Your junior and senior years are critical times of you high school journey. Juniors begin to make decisions that will affect the rest of your lives, and seniors will find yourselves juggling a multitude of deadlines and responsibilities in addition to the festivities and excitement of the final year of high school. Avoid becoming overwhelmed and stay organized and ahead of the game by mapping out a plan of attack for the coming year.  Following are tentative monthly schedules that may be useful in creating a detailed list of dates and deadlines for juniors and seniors.

Junior year calendar

A lot of junior year is preparing for all the work you’ll have to do senior year. Use this calendar to keep you on track.

September

  • Determine when you’ll take the SAT or ACT exam.
  • Meet with your college counselors to discuss your course selection for the school year and ensure it’s appropriately challenging.
  • Step up extracurricular involvement and take on leadership roles.
  • Participate in community service activities.
  • Register for the PSAT.
  • This is a good time to begin looking at college reference books and visiting schools’ websites. Begin a list of schools you’re interested in applying to.
  • Review your transcripts thus far with your college counselors and work on improving grades and GPA.
  • This is also a good time to begin working on résumés.

October

  • Take the PSAT.
  • Consider taking career assessment tests to help them explore majors and professions you’re interested in or well suited for.

November

  • Continue to focus on maintaining strong grades.
  • Work with parents, teachers, and college counselors to develop a game plan for SAT/ACT preparation.
  • Begin a more in-depth investigation of colleges. Continue to visit schools’ websites and consider speaking with current students and alumni.
  • It’s never too early to begin searching for scholarships and grants. The sooner you start, the more money you’ll find.

December

January

  • Mid-year evaluation of grades. Look for areas that need improvement.
  • Continue the search for scholarships and grants.
  • Consider job shadowing and volunteer work to learn more about potential careers.

February

  • Look at schedule of AP exams and register if applicable.
  • Continue SAT/ACT test preparation through prep courses, software, and/or practice tests.
  • Start selecting senior year courses, ensuring they’re sufficiently but not overly challenging.
  • You and your counselor should discuss potential colleges and start narrowing down the list.

March

  • Request admission and financial aid information from colleges.
  • Create a folder for each school you’re applying to.
  • Begin visiting schools and touring campuses.
  • Work on applications for summer jobs and internships.

April

  • Continue visiting schools. Attend college fairs and meet with admission representatives.
  • Think about teachers, counselors, and mentors who could write letters of recommendation.
  • Finalize course selection for senior year.
  • Register for summer school, if necessary.
  • Continue SAT/ACT and AP test preparation if applicable.
  • Re-evaluate the list of colleges you’re thinking of applying to and continue to narrow down the list.
  • This is a good time to look into academic summer programs, such as academic summer camps and schools or programs for high schools students at local colleges.

May

  • Finalize summer plans.
  • Study hard and end the school year with strong grades. Look at final grades and GPA and determine where improvements can be made.
  • Continue to visit colleges, setting up interviews, meeting with admission and financial personnel, and talking with current and former students.

Summer

  • Get a job and try to put away some money for college.
  • Continue to visit and research colleges.
  • Get leadership experience through volunteer activities.
  • Stay sharp by doing things like participating in academic summer programs and reading challenging books.

Related: Our Best Advice for Junior Year of High School

Senior year calendar

September

  • Finalize the list of colleges you plan to apply to and review them with your high school counselor.
  • Determine which schools don’t have online applications and request paper applications as necessary.
  • Meet with any visiting college representatives. Go to college fairs. Continue to visit colleges and do online virtual tours.
  • Register for and take the SAT/ACT if you haven’t already or were unhappy with your original scores.
  • You and your counselor should consider creating a “master calendar” of all application and financial aid deadlines.
  • Review transcript and make sure everything is accurate.
  • Note the deadlines for any schools you’re applying to Early Decision or Early Action—these dates will come very quickly.
  • Take on leadership roles and be as involved as possible in extracurricular activities.
  • Begin thinking about essay topics.
  • Continue to focus on grades—final transcripts will be sent to the schools you’re accepted to.
  • Gather documents needed for the FAFSA.
  • Go to any financial aid nights/events available.

October

  • File the FAFSA as soon after October 1 as possible, then start watching for your Student Aid Report (SAR) and review it for accuracy.
  • Submit Early Action or Early Decision applications.
  • Start outline application essay ideas and writing them.
  • Ask teachers, coaches, or others to write recommendations. Give them at least a month to write.
  • Continue to attend college fairs and college nights.
  • If distance permits, visit your top choice schools. If they’re too far away, visit the schools’ websites, do virtual tours, and communicate with admission and financial aid representatives.
  • Maintain an organized folder for each school.
  • Find out what financial aid forms each school requires, note the deadlines, and begin gathering the information that will be required.
  • If required, begin working on video auditions, portfolios, writing samples, and other application supplements.
  • Students and counselors should work together to ensure transcripts and test scores will be sent to the schools.

November

  • Continue working on applications and ensure all deadlines will be met. Be sure to make copies of everything.
  • Follow up with everyone who wrote letters of recommendation and ensure the letters will be sent on time and to the correct schools.
  • Finalize essays. Scrutinize them carefully, get second opinions, and re-write as necessary.

December

  • Start wrapping up applications.
  • Continue searching for scholarships and grants.
  • Notification of admission decisions for Early Decision and Early Action applications generally arrive in December or January.

January

  • Submit any remaining applications with Regular Decision deadlines.
  • Continue to focus on grades—they still count.
  • If required, send first semester transcripts to schools.
  • Finalize any applications not already submitted.

February

  • Review all applications and make sure all required materials have been submitted and all deadlines have been met.
  • Continue searching and applying for scholarships and grants.
  • It’s courteous to send thank-you notes to anyone who sent a letter or recommendation or helped in the application process in some way.

March

  • Admission decisions will start coming in. Work with tyour parents and college counselor to rank options and evaluate any wait lists.
  • Note the dates of upcoming AP exams and begin studying for them.
  • Look for summer jobs and volunteer opportunities.
  • Students who have been accepted to more than one school and are unsure of which to attend might consider visiting or re-visiting the campuses to help in making the decision.

April

  • Once financial aid packages start coming in from each school, review and compare them.
  • Decide on the school you’ll attend by accepting and declining offers as necessary and sending any required deposits, usually by May 1.
  • Note orientation, registration, and other important dates and deadlines for the upcoming school year.
  • Even at this point, continue to look for scholarships and grants.
  • Don’t lose focus—finish the school year with strong grades.

May

  • Make sure your high school sends your final grades, class rank, and proof of graduation to your college.
  • Finalize your summer plans.
  • Analyze your financial situation and work on a budget for your first year of college. Save money from summer jobs.
  • Enjoy the rest of your senior year and get ready for a busy summer before college!

Summer

  • Work and continue saving money for college.
  • Attend orientation and any other activities for incoming freshmen.
  • Shop for dorm furnishings and make a list of things to pack.
  • Find and connect with future roommates.
  • Stay sharp by reading challenging books, brushing up on math skills, and maintaining proficiency in any foreign languages taken in high school.
  • Relax, travel if possible, and spend time with friends and family. The next four years will be a busy and exciting whirlwind!

Related: Our Best Advice for Senior Year of High School

Keep in mind this is not a definitive list of what you have to do and when you have to do it. Your college admission journey is going to look different from your friends and peers. But this list is comprehensive so it’s a good guide for the last two years of school. Good luck on your way to college. You got this!

If you haven't built your college list yet, you should check out The CollegeXpress Ultimate Guide to the College Search or go straight to our College Search tool

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Lexie Knutson

Lexie Knutson

High School Class of 2021

This whole website has helped me overcome the attitude I had before. I was scared to even approach the thought of college because it was so much. I knew it wasn’t just a few easy steps, and I panicked mostly, instead of actually trying. Without realizing it, CollegeXpress did exactly what I usually do when I panic, which is take it one step at a time. With college I forget that because it’s more than just a small to-do list, but this website was really helpful and overall amazing. So thank you!

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris

College Student

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services. I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

Sarah Armstrong

Sarah Armstrong

High School Class of 2022

I am a deaf student, and I had always dreamed of going to Gallaudet University. CollegeXpress helped me search though other qualified universities. They helped me know for sure that Gallaudet University was the right choice for me!

Damian Rangel

Damian Rangel

September 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me tackle college expenses, which will allow me to put more of my time and effort into my studies without the need of worrying as much about finances.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In