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Applying to College: A Timeline for Success


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Preparing for college can be an exciting yet stressful time for high school students. The process of selecting the right college, preparing for standardized tests, completing applications, and applying for financial aid can seem overwhelming. To help you stay on track, Uprooted Academy has put together a step-by-step timeline of important dates to keep in mind as you navigate the college application process. Whether you're a junior just starting the process or a senior making your final decision, this timeline will help you stay organized and focused on your goals. Read on to learn more about the key dates and tasks to keep in mind as you embark on your college journey!


Junior Year:


Fall of Junior Year

  • Start researching colleges and universities to find the best fit for your academic, social, and financial needs. You can start by talking to your school counselor, visiting college websites, and attending college fairs, information sessions, and campus tours to learn more about colleges and their programs. Consider factors such as location, size, campus culture, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and cost.

  • Take the most rigorous courses available in your school to demonstrate your academic ability to college admissions officers. These can include Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, honors courses, or dual enrollment courses at a local community college. Take courses in subjects that interest you and that will prepare you for college-level work.

  • Begin preparing for standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT by using study guides, taking practice tests, and considering test prep courses or tutors. Be sure to use the free official online practice tests available for the PSAT, SAT or ACT.

Spring of Junior Year

  • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss your college plans and receive guidance on selecting courses, extracurricular activities, and other opportunities that will strengthen your college application.

  • Request letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities and personal qualities. Provide each of your teachers or counselors with a summary of your academic record and involvement in extracurricular activities so that they can write a more personalized and effective recommendation.

  • Create a list of colleges you're interested in and research each college's application requirements thoroughly. Be sure to look at each college's admission standards, testing requirements, and essay prompts, as well as other application components. Keep in mind that some colleges have specific application requirements or deadlines, so it's essential to stay organized and on top of all the necessary information.

  • Plan to take either the SAT or the ACT so you have time to retake it if necessary. Ask a counselor to help you request a fee waiver well before the registration date of your test date.

  • Start your search for financial aid sources by exploring the various options available to you.

Senior Year:


Summer Before Senior Year

  • Visit colleges either in-person, if possible, or through virtual tours and webinars to get a better understanding of their campus culture and academic programs. By the end of the summer, you should have a final list of colleges that you want to apply to. Make sure you have a mix of reach, target, and safety schools.

  • Start brainstorming and drafting your personal statement or college essay. Seek feedback from teachers or counselors and continue revising until you feel confident with the final product.

  • Start working on your college applications. The Common App opens August 1 and allows you to apply to multiple schools with one application. Make a comprehensive list of all the application materials you will need to submit, including transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters. Keeping track of these items early on will help you stay organized and avoid any last-minute scrambling.

  • If you plan on retaking the SAT in the fall of your senior year, it's important to continue studying for it over the summer.

Early Fall of Senior Year

  • Keep working on your personal statement or college essay, and ask your teachers, counselor, or friends to read it and give you feedback.

  • Check if you need to take any remaining standardized tests, and schedule them accordingly. Give yourself enough time to prepare and receive your scores before the application deadlines.

  • Submit any early action or early decision applications by the deadline, usually November 1-15, and make sure to prioritize them based on your preferences and the competitiveness of each college.

Late Fall of Senior Year

  • Submit regular decision applications by the deadline, and double-check that all application materials have been received by the colleges.

  • Follow up with your guidance counselor or teachers to confirm that they've submitted your recommendation letters and any other required documents.

  • Research and apply for any available financial aid or scholarships, and keep track of deadlines and requirements.

Winter of Senior Year

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. The 2024-2025 application will be available in December, two months later than its usual opening date of October 1. Some colleges may also require the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA, so be sure to check each college's financial aid requirements and deadlines.

  • Stay on top of communication from colleges, including requests for additional information or interviews, and respond promptly.

  • Consider researching and applying to summer internships, jobs, or volunteer opportunities to gain valuable experience and further enhance your college application and future career prospects.

Spring of Senior Year

  • Review your acceptance letters, and compare your financial aid offers.

  • By May 1, you'll need to make a final decision on which college to attend and notify the school of your decision. Make sure to submit any necessary deposits or forms by the deadline.

  • Plan and prepare for college orientation and move-in day, and begin to consider course options and extracurricular activities for your first semester.

  • Remember to celebrate your accomplishments and hard work in reaching this milestone!

Does the college application process still seem overwhelming? Don’t worry. Uprooted Academy can help you keep track of all these dates and stay organized, so that you don't miss any important deadlines. Getting into the college of your dreams can be tough, but you don't have to do it alone. Get started with our FREE Step-by-Step College Advising Video Course, and let's figure this out together!


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