Prior to Senior Year:
- What are your college and career plans? Talk with your school counselor, parents, and other trusted adults to develop a college admissions plan.
- Earn college credits while in high school. Talk to your school counselor about taking Advanced Placement courses or dual enrollment for college credit.
- Research and explore colleges. Go on campus visits. Consider cost just as carefully as programs offered.
- Attend college fairs and financial aid events and meet with admissions representatives who visit your school.
- Check college websites for information on their total cost of attendance, financial aid opportunities, and graduation and job placement rates.
- Begin narrowing your career choices so that you can decide on a major later in the year.
- Consider schools at different total cost levels (including room/board, transportation, etc.). Target schools that are affordable for you.
- Register for SAT and ACT tests - take advantage of any available test prep courses. Check out EducationPlanner.org for free test prep and practice exams.
- Investigate scholarship opportunities. Visit with your school counselor to understand local sources of scholarships. Go to EducationPlanner.org and other websites. Check with your place of worship, your parents' employers, and local social or civic organizations to which you or your parents belong.
Fall of Senior Year:
- Check your schedule. Will you have all the necessary requirements completed by graduation for your educational goals?
- Ask for a copy of your transcript. Are all of your classes on it? Are all of the grades correct? Make sure everything is complete and accurate. You will provide your transcript for many applications this year, like college and scholarship applications. Make sure it reflects you and your performance accurately.
- Attend local career/college fairs.
- If you haven't already, take the ACT or SAT.
- Watch for scholarship applications and be aware of deadlines. Information about scholarships is available on your school's guidance website or ask your school counselor.
- Consider volunteering.
- Narrow your list of colleges to 5 to 7.
- Create a master list or calendar that includes:
- tests you'll take and their fees, dates and registration deadlines
- college application due dates
- financial aid application forms required and their deadlines
- other materials you'll need (recommendations, transcripts, etc.)
- your high school's own application processing deadlines
- Visit colleges. Call ahead to schedule an appointment and a tour.
- Start collecting college applications. Be aware of deadlines. Consider early admission deadlines.
- Ask for recommendations.
- Start thinking about an application essay. Ask your English instructor to look it over for you and help with revisions.
Winter of Senior Year:
- If you didn't take it your junior year, consider taking the ASVAB.
- Apply for a pin number by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is needed when you and your parent file for financial aid.
- In Pennsylvania, your FAFSA information is used for PA State Grant consideration. You will also need to complete the State Grant Form which is linked to the FAFSA Confirmation Page. (If you miss this link, you will receive an email notice directing you to the State Grant Form.)
- Complete the FAFSA after January 1. You'll need information from your family's tax return, and yours too, to complete the form.
- DEADLINES - For the PA State Grant, the FAFSA filing deadline is May 1 for students attending colleges, universities, and college-transferable programs (excluding community colleges), and for all renewal students. The deadline is August 1 for first-time students attending community colleges, business, trade, or technical schools, hospital schools of nursing, "open admissions" institutions, or 2-year, non-transferable degree programs at a junior or 4-year college. Before selecting your major or course of study, research whether you will be able to find a job in this career after graduation.
- After filing the FAFSA, watch your email for your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes your FAFSA information and provides you an opportunity to make corrections, if necessary. If you did not provide an email address on the FAFSA, your SAR will be sent by postal mail.
- Update your resume.
- Check your college applications and make sure you are on track with deadlines.
- Continue looking for scholarship applications and watch for deadlines. Search the internet and your local library.
- Try to apply to the schools of your choice no later than winter vacation.
Spring of Senior Year:
- Make sure your chosen colleges have received all the materials they need.
- Continue the search for scholarships.
- Review college acceptance letters as you receive them. Consider your financial aid award letters when making your decisions.
- Receive financial aid award letters (or aid packages) from the colleges to which you applied. Award letters detail the type and amount of aid you are eligible to receive from each school.
- Determine which aid amounts are free money (grants and scholarships), which involve working (work-study), and which must be repaid with interest (loans).
- Compare the total free money (grants and scholarships) to the total cost of the school (including books and transportation). The difference is the amount you will need to cover through savings, earnings, or student and/or parent borrowing.
- Determine if the schools you are considering offer some type of payment plan.
- Consider lower cost alternative schools, if necessary, as you make your final college choice.
- Make your final decision about a college to attend. Make sure you notify the college you decide to attend and send the required deposit. Also notify the colleges you did not choose about your decision.
- Complete your housing arrangements, orientation and course registration requirements at your school of choice.
- Be sure your PA State Grant record reflects the school you plan to attend. If it does not, update this information via Account Access at PHEAA.org. Creating an account through Account Access at PHEAA.org will allow you to check the status of your State Grant application., make any changes, and manage your account information at any time.
- Send people who wrote you recommendations a thank you letter. Let them know your future plans.
- Don't slack off, even after you have been accepted! Colleges look for strong grades in your senior year of high school, too.
- Happy Graduation :)
Summer of Senior Year:
- Consider summer employment to help defray some of the costs of college.
- If you are eligible, inquire about the availability of work-study jobs on campus, and be sure you know how and when to apply for these jobs.
- Students borrowing federal student loans for the first time must complete "entrance counseling." Contact the Financial Aid Office at your school for information on how to complete this process.
- Satisfy your first semester tuition bill by the college's payment or registration deadline.
- Read to stay ready for college.
- Attend orientation meetings offered at your college.
- Enjoy your summer!