Written by Lisa Bleich.
Back to school is a busy time for everyone, especially Seniors who are applying to college. Keep a close eye on deadlines as each college and program has their own unique set of requirements.
The time is now…get organized and finalize your plans.
Register for fall SATs and ACTs.
The fall is the last testing date that will get in for early applications, so whether you are taking it for the first time (finally!) or want to improve your scores one more time, it is a good idea to register now. Now let’s just hope they actually offer the test at your testing center. Private school locations seem to be more reliable in offering the tests.
Register for the Common Application.
Register for the Common Application and Coalition.
Set up an account and add the schools to which you will be applying.
Write, rewrite, and finalize your Main Personal Statement.
Your main essay is called your personal statement. It should be between 250-650 words. This will be cut and pasted directly into the Common Application.
Visit Colleges In-Person and Virtually.
It is not too late to visit colleges if you are still undecided. If you’re thinking of applying ED somewhere, try to visit your top 2-3 schools and speak with as many current students as possible to help you decide where to apply. Please note that many in-person tours book up quickly because COVID safety precautions have limited the number of visitors. Additionally, many schools have upped their virtual college visit game and have current student tour guides giving the tours live.
Here are some virtual visit sites.
- Youvisit.com — Over 600 virtual college visits
- Your high school’s Naviance/Family Connection should have a list of colleges conducting a Virtual Visit to your school.
And please update the National Portfolio Day Link with this:
Reach Out to Coaches
If you’d like to play sports in college and are good enough to be recruited, it’s not too late to reach out to DIII coaches to generate interest. Make sure to include an athletic resume and if relevant and available, a link to a video of a game or highlights depending on the sport.
Finish Your College List.
Identify your final list of schools and decide if you want to apply somewhere Early Decision, which is binding. Prioritize your applications by interest and difficulty of the application. Your goal is to have:
1-2 reach schools
1-2 possible schools
3-4 likely schools
1-2 safety schools
Register for National Portfolio Day.
If you are submitting an art portfolio. This offers you an opportunity to have your portfolio reviewed by numerous art schools at the same time and get feedback to improve your portfolio before a final submission. National Portfolio Day Link.
Request Letters of recommendation from Teachers.
Find out how many you need for your list of schools. Many schools only require one, but will accept more. Ask your teachers to write you a letter of recommendation at the beginning of the school year. Many teachers limit the number of students for whom they write letters, so it is best to get on their list early. Follow your high school’s specific instructions on how to request and send letters.
Schedule an Interview, if appropriate for your schools. Many schools are offering interviews this fall but you must register in advance. It is a good idea to check the interview policy at all your schools to make sure you do not miss the deadline.
Schedule an Audition (if applicable). The deadline for this varies by school.
Fill out your Financial Aid Forms.
If you are applying to private colleges, you can submit the CSS profile as early as September with an estimated income tax form.
CSS Profile (Private School Financial Aid Form)
For the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will need to wait until Jan. 1.
Start applications for state and other applications that are not on the Common App. Many state schools do not participate in the Common Application, so you will need to set up a separate account for each school. Do not despair, though, because you can often use the same personal statement that you write for the Common Application schools.
Identify and start working on your supplements to the Common Application.
In addition to the main personal statement (essay), many schools require supplemental essays or forms.
Take Last-Minute SAT Subject Tests or SAT/ACT Tests.
Yes, if you take the October ACT or SAT it will count toward an early decision application. (But please check your individual school’s requirements to be sure about the October ACT.) Both the SAT and ACT have added more testing dates this year.
Request SAT and ACT Scores.
Many schools allow you to self report but for those that don’t allow four weeks before your application is due to avoid a late fee. (You can still send your scores if you miss this deadline for an additional fee.)
Finish Applications for Early Decision or Early Action.
This is the time to get all your supplements completed, including not only essays, but also links to performing arts talent or an art portfolio.
Work on Your Portfolio, Arts Supplement or Maker Portfolio
Many colleges allow you to showcase your talent through SlideRoom.com. Start collecting your pieces and research what each school requires. For students applying for a BFA, the requirements are extensive but for students looking to demonstrate their talent to enhance their application, you can pick your top pieces or creations to include.
Allow at least four weeks before your application is due. Check with your high school for the specific requirements.