College Planning Timeline


October – December

  • Visit colleges during fall break. If you can’t travel far away, visit local colleges.
  • Attend local college nights, where many colleges come together to meet informally with students.
  • Purchase college guide books such as The Princeton Review or Colleges That Change Lives.
  • Use the college search engine at

January – March

  • Register to take one ACT, one SAT by the end of June.
  • Meet with your college counselor to draft a prospective college list.
  • Investigate schools on your prospective college list.
  • Visit prospective colleges over spring break, if possible.

April – May – Early June

  • Create a resume for yourself, so when you begin to apply to colleges, you will remember your activities and honors.
  • Take AP Exams.
  • Work hard to make your junior-year grades as good as possible!

Mid June – Mid August

  • Continue to research schools on your prospective college list.
  • Participate in an internship, summer research project, outdoor adventure, or travel. Colleges are looking for students who take initiative and have creative ideas. Start something good this summer!
  • Visit prospective schools over the summer, if possible.
  • Read college literature, college guide books, and college websites.
  • Call, write, or email to get on mailing lists of all prospective schools.
  • Begin working on a college essay if your colleges require an essay.


Mid August – September

  • Meet with your college counselor to finalize your college application list.

  • Re-register to take ACT, SAT I and SAT II, if needed.
  • Work on college application essays.
  • Decide which teachers you’ll ask to write your recommendation letter.


  • Give your college counselor his/her portion of application at least two weeks early.
  • Confirm plans for your teacher recommendation.

February 15

  • Typical “priority” deadline for the financial aid application (FAFSA).

April 1: 

  • Traditional admission notification deadline for selective, non-rolling admission cycles.

May 1: 

  • Candidate Reply Date. Make sure you have committed to go to ONE school by this date, and that you have notified all others who accepted you that you will not be attending.