A Complete College Prep Checklist: High School Senior Year

If your student is heading into their senior year (Class of 2019), there’s no question that their high school senior year is exciting… but it’s also incredibly busy! Between the admissions process, scholarships, testing, finals, prom, graduation and more, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

When it comes to college planning, it may seem like there are a million things to think about and complete, but being prepared is the key to limiting stress levels for you and your student. There are a few significant ‘hurdles’ your student needs to clear if they’re planning to head to college the following year. Additionally, timing is essential when it comes to the process, as you don’t want your student to miss important deadlines. With the right resource, it can create some necessary breathing room for both you and your student, helping both of you stay sane during this busy time.

We have created a complete college prep list to ensure you and your student are fully prepared. Soon, your high school senior will be off to college and starting a new chapter of their life. Let us help you make that ride as smooth as possible!


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Should be completed prior to high school senior year:

  • Make a list of potential colleges you would like to attend
  • Make sure your resume is up-to-date and continue updating it throughout the year
  • Discuss careers and which majors can lead there
  • Gather college information: Attend college fairs, college nights and speak to representatives from colleges that attend your high school
  • Apply for scholarships
  • Learn and organize your financial aid
  • Consider ways to earn college credit via Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CLEP, or Dual Enrollment courses
  • Set up appointments at your top college choices including a personal interview, tour of the campus and meet with a professor/coach if desired
  • Start working on your college application essays: Have a teacher read and discuss the essays with you
  • Discuss Letters of Recommendation: Request these letters with at least a 2-week notice
  • Take the SAT/ACT


  • Getting involved: It’s never too late for students to get involved
  • Continue to visit schools
  • Finalize your college list: use all the information that has been gathered from your college visits, interviews and your own research to determine which schools you wish to apply to
  • Stay on track with grades and extracurricular activities: don’t slack off colleges look into what you have done your senior year too!
  • Take your standardized tests: Register for and take the ACT, SAT, or SAT Subject Tests (as necessary).
  • Create a calendar detailing application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships
  • Create a final draft of your resume
  • Ask for letters of recommendation: request these with at least a 2 weeks notice
  • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss options for scholarships and admissions
  • Retake the ACT/SAT at least once, perhaps twice depending on score
  • Complete applications: Finish application forms for the schools you are interested in. *To avoid rushing to make deadlines, complete prior to winter break*
  • Check that colleges received all materials: applications, letters of recommendations, and test scores
  • Submit financial aid forms: Fill out the FAFSA no matter what, and if necessary, the PROFILE as early as possible beginning in October
  • Continue your scholarship search: use the successful strategies we cover – October is a major scholarship month!


  • Continue building involvement
  • Follow up on your college applications: Check with the schools to make sure they have received all your information, including test scores, transcripts, and recommendations
  • Take the ACT/SAT if scores can still be submitted to colleges
  • Keep working hard on your grades
  • Complete remaining admissions applications
  • Compare the costs of the schools your child is considering
  • Update personal statement with fall semester experiences
  • If a course member, winter break is a great time to implement a large portion of the materials
  • Work a part-time job for experience and to save money
  • Continue with your scholarship search: Holiday breaks are a great time to knockout some applications


  • Continue saving up for college (part-time job wages)
  • Keep an eye out in the mail for notification from colleges: Admissions decisions go out by March or April
  • Keep your grades up
  • Have a family meeting about college finances/financial aid and compare financial aid packages: ideally debt-free options
  • Check out your options if you’re put on a waitlist: Keep in mind being put on a waitlist does not mean rejection. You should receive a decision by May
  • Prepare for any last standardized tests: AP, IB and CLEP exams
  • Choose your school: Notify all colleges your decision by May 1st
  • Complete enrollment paperwork for the college you will attend: complete all paperwork by the deadline (this includes: course scheduling, orientation sessions, housing arrangements, and other necessary forms)
  • Don’t give up on scholarships there’s still time to apply and receive money for the fall semester! Use the successful strategies we cover
  • Just in case, begin researching and learning about student loans


  • Getting involved: Have your child join organizations if they haven’t already
  • Work and save money for college expenses
  • Continue to apply for scholarships – deadlines go all the way through July and into August for money for the fall!: use the successful strategies we cover
  • Be on the lookout for college admission notifications
  • Research student loans if needed, narrowing down your choices
  • Talk with your child about college bills

It’s easy to get caught up in all the college prep but don’t forget to cheer your student throughout the process. They have worked so incredibly hard to get here and deserve TONS of praise for their efforts and hard work!

Download a copy of the checklist by clicking the button below:

Click here to grab a copy of the list!

If you and your child would like to learn more about how to get started with scholarships, sign up for our free college scholarship webinar! It’s a great way to learn about the process and how to identify opportunities that can help your student avoid debt while pursuing their education!

And if you want our latest list of scholarships with deadlines coming up, go to www.thescholarshipsystem.com/scholarshiplist.

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