Senior Year Timeline for College Applications

By: Caroline Koppelman | Download PDF File

Summer before senior year:

  • Brainstorm ideas for common app essay
  • Create a preliminary list of about 20-25 safety, target, and reach schools


  • Create a common app account
  • Finish all logistical sections of the common app
  • Start (and try to finish) common app essay
  • Register for final standardized tests
  • Narrow down your list of colleges to roughly 15 schools and consider applying early


Visit schools for a final time. If you’re deciding between a few schools for an early application, visit them again. You should also visit as many schools on your list as possible to demonstrate interest


  • Take final standardized tests (this is the last time you an take the ACT for early decision applications)
  • Finish early decision application
  • Start regular decision applications
  • Send standardized test scores to early decision college
  • Edit and re-edit your common app essay. Then edit again
  • Have guidance counselor send transcripts
  • Keep your grades up


  • Submit early decision application
  • Finish at least two-thirds of your regular decision applications before December 1st. If you don’t get into your early decision school, you don’t want to spend all of winter break working on applications.  
  • Take the SAT/SAT 2s for the last time for early decision schools. Check with your specific school for details


  • Send standardized test scores to regular decision schools
  • If you do not get accepted to your early decision school, send in regular decision applications
  • If you have decided to apply to more regular decision schools than were on your initial list, notify your guidance counselor immediately so she can send your transcripts
  • Complete your final regular decision applications


  • Submit all regular decision applications
  • Have your guidance counselor send your first semester grades
  • Make sure you receive confirmation on all of the applications you submitted


  • If you were deferred early decision, send a mid-year update to your school of choice


  • You should begin hearing from colleges in mid-March



  • Final decision about college is made on May 1st