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Your Four-Year College Planning Calendar (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 16, 2009

Senior Year

Although you might have thought starting earlier meant finishing earlier, for most students this is not the case. Plan to be in the admissions process through this whole year, and count on the fact that your senior year performance will likely have a strong impact on your admissions chances. If you do get into a college earlier, that will be a big relief.

August and September: Finalize college visits, though you might still see a couple later in the fall as you complete your college list and establish any top choices. File applications under Rolling Admissions plans at public universities of interest. ACT is offered in more places in September these days.

October: Consider the SAT, ACT, or Subject Tests as necessary. Take them again if you think you have a reasonable chance of doing better. We do often see significant score improvements between last spring and senior fall. Make sure you are informing your teachers about any Rolling, Early Action, or Early Decision choices so that recommendation letters are requested and submitted, and counselors send school reports and transcripts. Note many Early deadlines are November 1 or 15, but you should file your applications earlier if possible.

November and December: Finalize your college list. Consider any additional testing needs. File all Regular Decision applications by the second week of December if possible. Focus on your fall grades. They are crucial! Gather your financial information and explore some financial aid calculators for the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE to see if you might qualify for need-based aid. Apply for private merit scholarships, or merit scholarships offered by colleges (listed on their Web sites) where the deadlines might be in advance of regular admissions deadlines.

January: One more chance on the SAT if you need it. All your applications should be in by now. Sit for alumni interviews when offered. File the FAFSA and PROFILE forms as early as possible.

February: Consider sending an update email or letter to the colleges you applied to, including any that might have deferred you during an earlier application round. Perhaps ask another teacher to write a recommendation for you, and talk with your guidance counselor about calling one or more schools on your behalf.

March: You will hear from most colleges this month. If you are denied, your done. If admitted you have until May 1 to make a decision about where to enroll. If you are wait listed, a growing trend these days, consider whether you want to continue to pursue that college depending on your other choices.

April: Revisit colleges that offered you admission, based on your interest in them. Compare financial aid offers and consider appealing them as appropriate. Revisits and attendance at colleges’ special revisit days are essential in your choosing the best college for you at this point. Make a deposit at one of them by May 1, even if you are still pursuing one or more waiting lists. Write an update letter expressing interest in any wait list schools.

May: You should be holding onto one school by now, and will likely hear about most waiting list offers this month, though some wait lists extend well into the summer.

June: Take any SAT Subject Tests (really!) as appropriate, as these can earn you college course credit or placement. Congratulate yourselves on a job well done. Getting into college is a big accomplishment!

Howard and Matthew Greene are independent educational consultants at Howard Greene & Associates in Westport, CT, and New York City. They are the authors of the Greenes’ Guides to Educational Planning Series and hosts of two national PBS programs on college admissions. You can find them at www.howardgreeneassociates.com.

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