Senior Year College Application Timeline

Fall of senior year of high school, also known as college application crunch time. (No pressure, right?!) Don't worry—you've got this. And here's a handy timeline, so you know exactly what to do and when to do it. 

P.S. If you haven't found the right colleges for you yet, you should check out The Ultimate Guide to the College Search: How to Find Your Perfect College Match!


  • Finalize the list of colleges you plan to apply to and review them with your guidance counselor.
  • Collect application materials and keep careful track of all due dates.
  • Decide if you need to take or retake the SAT or ACT, and register!
  • Gather your family financial records in preparation for filing the FAFSA.


  • Submit your FAFSA as soon after October 1 as possible.
  • Start outlining application essay ideas.
  • Ask teachers, coaches, or others to write recommendations. Give them at least a month to write.
  • Visit any colleges you haven’t seen already.


  • A lot of Early Action and Early Decision deadlines fall in November, so be sure to stay on top of those deadlines if you want to be considered in the early applicant pool.


  • Complete all applications neatly and send them on time. Don’t forget to include the application fee!


  • Submit any remaining applications with Regular Decision deadlines.
  • Look for scholarships. Use our scholarship search and check out the Financial Aid section of this site for more information on scholarships, loans, and financial aid.


  • Some colleges require mid-year grades. Be sure your high school sends them.


  • Plan to take AP exams in May.


  • Look for admission notices in the mail or e-mail.
  • Carefully review financial aid award packages.
  • Decide which college you will attend; notify all others of your decision.


  • Make sure your high school sends your final grades, class rank, and proof of graduation to your college.
  • Send required deposit to the school of your choice.
  • Finalize all elements of your financial aid package. You may need to get loan applications directly from a lender.
  • Enjoy the rest of your senior year and get ready for a busy summer before college!

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