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Action Plan: High School Seniors


Pulling Your Applications Together

  • Narrow your list of colleges to between 5 and 10 and review it with your counselor. Get an application and financial aid info from each. Visit as many as possible.
  • Make a master calendar and note:
    • Test dates, fees, and deadlines
    • College application due dates
    • Required financial aid applications and their deadlines
    • Recommendations, transcripts, and other necessary materials
    • Your high school’s deadlines for application requests, such as your transcript
  • Ask for recommendations. Give each person your resume, a stamped, addressed envelope, and any required forms.
  • Write application essays and ask teachers, parents, and friends to read first drafts.

Applying Early Action or Early Decision?

  • November 1: For early admissions, colleges may require test scores and applications in early November. Send your SAT scores at
  • Ask if your college offers an early estimate of financial aid eligibility.

Get Financial Aid Info

  • Attend financial aid info events in your area.
  • Talk to your counselor about CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and learn about it with Completing the PROFILE.
  • Use Scholarship Search at, review scholarship books, and ask your counselor about local and state funding sources.

Application Details

  • Most regular applications are due between January 1 and February 15. Keep copies of everything you send to colleges.
  • Have your high school send your transcript to colleges.
  • Contact colleges to make sure they’ve received all application materials.

Financial Aid: Apply Early. Apply Right.

  • You and your family should save this year’s pay stubs to estimate income on aid forms that you’ll file early next year.
  • Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible beginning on October 1. Men 18 or older must register for the selective service to receive federal financial aid.
  • Many priority financial aid deadlines fall in February. To get the most attractive award package, apply by the priority date. Keep copies of everything you send.


When the Letters Start Rolling In

  • You should get acceptance letters and financial aid offers by mid-April.
  • Use Compare Your Aid Awards to compare awards from different colleges. Questions? Talk to financial aid officers. Not enough aid? Ask if other financing plans are available.
  • If you haven’t already, visit your final college before accepting.

May 1: Making Your Final Choice

  • You must tell every college of your acceptance or rejection of offers of admission or financial aid by May 1. Send a deposit to the college you choose.
  • Wait-listed? If you will enroll if accepted, tell the admissions director your intent and ask how to strengthen your application. Need financial aid? Ask if funds will be available if you’re accepted.

Next Steps

  • Ask your high school to send a final transcript to your college.
  • Start preparing for the year ahead.

12th Grade Monthly List of Activities


  • E-mail colleges to request information on admissions requirements, financial aid, housing and deadlines, etc.
  • Work on the essays required for the college/university applications.
  • Work on your resume. Be sure to include all of your volunteer work and extracurricular activities.
  • Make sure that you have the classes needed in your graduation plan and required at the college or university that you are
    planning to attend.
  • Take as many challenging (possibly AP,IB, or Dual Credit) courses as you can.


  • Keep a calendar with deadlines posted for easy visibility.
  • Register for and take the SAT & ACT, and SAT Subject Tests, or any other exams required for admission to the colleges to which you are applying if you have not done so.
  • Difficulty paying ACT or SAT registration fees? See about getting a fee waiver.
  • Keep up with the scholarship bulletins throughout the year.
  • Prepare your application carefully. Follow the instructions, and PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO DEADLINES! Be sure to ask your counselor and teachers at least two weeks before your application deadlines to submit the necessary documents to colleges (your transcript, letters of recommendation, etc.). Submit applications for college admission
  •  Attend College Night!


  • Check that you are scheduled to graduate at the end of the year.
  • Meet with your counselor early to discuss your plans, transcript requests, fee waivers, and letters of recommendation (2 weeks’ notice).
  • Request your FAFSA ID # at
  • Begin the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student) at



  • Check for scholarship opportunities in counselor’s office, websites (see below), etc. and complete and submit application forms before deadlines.
  • Request letters of recommendation (2 weeks’ notice) from teachers. 



  • Be ready to send out Mid -Year Reports in January.


  • Complete all necessary financial aid forms; fill out at least one form that can be used for federal aid.
  • Check to see if you will need to fill out a CSS/Financial Aid Profile. 



  • Submit your FAFSA if possible.
  • If possible, visit the colleges that most interest you.
  • Check for scholarship opportunities in counselor’s office, websites (see below), etc. and complete and submit application forms before deadlines.



  • Continue attending college sessions hosted at your school.
  • Continue to check for scholarship opportunities in counselor’s office, websites (see below), etc. and complete and submit application forms
    before deadlines.
  • Compare the colleges/universities that you have been admitted to and  determine which college/university you will be attending.
  • Check AP Exam Registration dates.



  • Verify that the college admissions office has all your paperwork.
  • Review your FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR).
  • Review the financial aid packages offered by the different universities.  Remember that you have a choice regarding what you will accept and what you will decline. Work with your parents through this process. Be ready to commit by May.


  • Take AP Exams (Advanced Placement Program).
  • Register for and take the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) e.g THEA (Texas Higher Education Assessment), COMPASS, etc. if required at college or university that you are planning to attend.
  • Finalize your housing arrangements.


  • Review your financial aid package; determine if you will need additional monies for college.
  • Determine a major if you haven’t already.
  • Submit your request to the registrar for your final transcript which needs to be sent to the college/university that you will be attending.