12th Grade College Planning Timeline

Contributor: Shannon Malkovsky. Lesson ID: 10140

The 12th Grade College Planning Timeline will keep you organized through your senior year, and lists what you need to do to prepare for college next year. Follow this timeline for a stress-free year!


Preparing for College

College and Career
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Imagine your parents just dropped you off at your dream college; you are starting your college career, and what some would say is the most exciting time of your life.

  • How did you get here?
  • Are you anxious about planning for this exciting time?

Read on to find out what you need to do! Download the 12th Grade College Planning Timeline from Downloadble Resources in the right-hand sidebar and read on!

Visit schools

If you haven’t visited all the schools on your list, it’s time to schedule a visit.

Fall is a great time to visit schools because, since school is in session, you will be able to meet professors, sit in on a class, and talk to students.

Visiting while school is in session will give you a feel for what the campus environment is like. If you are unable to visit a school, see if the schools have virtual tours on their websites.

Finalize your college list

It’s time to make some decisions!

At this point, you’ve visited schools, researched schools, had interviews, went to college fairs, etc. Use the information you’ve gathered to narrow your choices down to five to ten schools. It’s alright to choose a few that you think will be a stretch, but also include some schools you think you will easily get accepted to.

Standardized tests

Taking standardized tests in your senior year can be stressful, but most students take them, and the best thing you can do is be prepared! Make sure you check with all the schools you plan to apply to, to find out which tests they may require. Some require the SAT or ACT, some require both, some also require SAT subject tests.

Take the tests as early as possible, especially if you are applying either early decision or early action. Request your test results be sent to the colleges of your choice.

Keep track of deadlines

Senior year can be a busy and stressful time. Make it easier on yourself by staying organized! Make a calendar with all deadlines, including college application, financial aid, test dates, and scholarship deadlines.

Letters of recommendation

If you haven’t already requested your letters of recommendation, now is the time!

Check to see how many are required for each school, and if they require them from anyone specific. It’s important to ask teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, etc., who know you well and will have lots of good things to say about you. Provide each writer with a brag sheet reviewing your strengths and accomplishments. Give each writer a stamped, addressed envelope, so they can send them directly to the schools.

Download and print the Senior Brag Sheet from Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Complete applications

Now is the time to complete your applications for your chosen schools. Have someone else proofread and double-check for mistakes before you submit them. Make sure all requirements have been sent, including test scores, recommendations, transcripts, and essays.

Continue searching for scholarships

Most scholarship deadlines are in January, so the sooner you search and apply, the better your chances! There is a lot of scholarship money out there that never gets used. Fastweb.com is a great site to help you search for scholarships. Check with the schools to see if they have special scholarships for which you are eligible.

Early Decision or Early Action

Early Decision If you are applying Early Decision, you must complete your application early. You can only apply Early Decision to one school, so choose wisely! Most students apply Early Decision to their number one choice. If you get accepted, you are committed to attending this school.

Early Action If you choose to apply Early Action, you must also submit your application early. If you do get accepted, you are not required to attend the school.

Most deadlines for both Early Action and Early Decision tend to fall in October and November.

Continue on to the Winter section to follow up on what you've done.

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