College Application Timeline


Hello College Applicants!

College application season is an interesting, exciting and, sometimes, stressful time! We recommend moving through your last half of high school with a clear plan to help minimize the stress and maximize the skill-building and fun.

Spring of Junior year:

  • Focus on keeping your grades high.
  • Talk with counselors about a preliminary college list. Work on having a comprehensive list that is comprised of Reach, Target and Safety schools. For a great resource on how to build a comprehensive college list for yourself (and find schools that might be more likely to give you aid), check out this college list building document . Make sure to research majors, programs and honors colleges you are interested in and into schools that have the size, location and culture you are looking for. Contact admissions officers at schools you are interested in and start an ongoing conversation about your connection to their school, called “demonstrated interest”
  • Before the school year winds down, talk to the teachers who you are interested in asking for a recommendation. Ask them what resources they’d need from you and by what date to write you a recommendation. See How to Ask for a Teacher Recommendation
  • Decide which schools you are going to tour during the next few months. Research the COVID restrictions of the schools you’re interested in. If possible, contact teachers within your major at that school, connect with them and ask if you can sit in on a class while you’re visiting their school
  • Decide if you are going to take the SAT and/or ACT, sign up for a test and set a study plan for the test you decide to take. Find Test Prep support if needed

Summer after Junior Year

  • Finalize college list based on research and school visits
  • Start your college essay brainstorming and topic selection
  • Gather the prompts that you are going to have to write over the next few months and organize them based on word count and priority
  • Study for the ACT/SAT

Mid-End of Summer

  • Start writing your college essays, starting with the Common Application essay
  • Decide which schools you are applying to early

Beginning of Senior Year

  • Follow up on your teacher recommendations
  • Take SAT/ACT
  • Continue writing and editing your college essays, prioritizing earlier due dates, most coveted schools and schools most likely to give you aid
  • Open all accounts on all applications portals you are interested in using (UC, Common App, ApplyTexas, etc)

Fall of Senior Year

  • Make sure all non-essay portions of your applications are complete (Activities List, Additional Info, Teacher Recs, transcripts, etc)
  • If applicable, make sure all SAT/ACT scores are submitted to colleges
  • Complete and submit all Early Decision, Early Action, UC app and Regular Decision applications and essays
  • Continue to tour and research schools you are interested in

Spring of Senior Year

  • Once decisions are out, submit any necessary waitlist or appeals letters
  • Make your college decision and submit your intention of matriculation to your school of choice