If you are a high school senior, 2019 college admissions would be one of the top things on your mind. The next few months are going to be busy as you try to balance your final year school work, extracurricular activities and apply for college admissions. Given most of the colleges in the U.S., Canada, U.K, Australia, Singapore etc. look at your high school transcripts (9th, 10th, and 11th-grade courses and grades), your 12th (Senior year) grades are important but less so in the initial admission decisions.
Below is a high-level timeline for high-school students to follow if they are applying for admissions to the U.S. colleges. This timeline is also applicable to students applying for graduate (M.S., M.B.A., Ph.D. programs). These tasks and activities are outlined more to help a student manage the process proactively and not wait until the last minute.
- Finalize your tentative college list of about 15 or so colleges you want to apply to. As part of your list, have 30-40% of the colleges that are aspirational/dream schools for you, 30-40% that may be target and 3-4 colleges that are likely for you. Given you are only going to join one college, better to be more aggressive on your aspirational and target colleges.
- If you are thinking of taking or re-taking any standardized tests, this is the time to register for October exams. Don’t delay these tests until December as many schools like to get the scores by Nov for the ED/EA deadline and some schools may not consider your application if the scores are not in on time.
- Create a list of critical application dates (EA/ED/Regular Admissions) for the colleges on your list. This will help you manage your applications during Oct – Jan time period
- Sign-up for Common Application and start working on your common essay prompts. Good to gather your thoughts and ideas on the essays in August.
- Make the decisions around your ED and EA schools. See which school is your ED college and which ones are you going to apply for EA application cycle.
- Complete the draft of your essays and get feedback from your family members.
- Complete the draft of Common Application
- Prepare for your standardized tests – if taking in Oct.
- Complete the paperwork with your school to request LOR, transcripts etc. as required. Many schools have a process to manage the work at their end and may start this in Aug with Sep. as a final month.
- Complete your ED and EA applications, review them and submit in Oct. Many schools have their ED/EA deadlines starting by mid-Oct.
- Make sure all standardized test scores and necessary documents are submitted.
- Check which schools require you to submit any additional application for financial aid, complete and submit.
November – December 2018
- Complete applications for all the schools on your list and submit it by December 31st. Most of the top 100 colleges have their deadline by early Jan for regular application.
January – April 2019
- Wait for college application decision
- Visit colleges you have been admitted to in case you are not sure where to join
- Start applying for financial aid, loans etc.
- Confirm your acceptance
Here is a detailed checklist for your college applications.
|Make a note of the regular application deadline|
|Make a note of the early application deadline|
|Request high school transcript sent|
|Request midyear grade report sent|
|Find out if an admission test is required|
|Take an admission test, if required|
|Take other required or recommended tests (e.g., SAT Subject Tests, AP Exams, IB exams)|
|Send admission-test scores|
|Send other test scores|
|Request recommendation letters|
|Send thank-you notes to recommendation writers|
|Draft initial essay|
|Proofread essay for spelling and grammar|
|Have two people read your essay|
|Revise your essay|
|Proofread your revision|
|Interview at college campus|
|Have an alumni interview|
|Make a note of the priority financial aid deadline|
|Make a note of the regular financial aid deadline|
|Complete college application|
|Make copies of all application materials|
|Pay application fee|
|Sign and send application|
|Submit college aid form, if needed|
|Submit state aid form, if needed|
|Confirm receipt of application materials|
|Send additional material, if needed|
|Tell school counselor that you applied|
|Receive letter from office of admission|
|Receive financial aid award letter|
|Meet deadline to accept admission and send deposit|
|Accept financial aid offer|
|Notify the colleges you will not attend|