Senior Year Checklist to Get Ready for College

By Huntington Learning Center

This is it: the culmination of high school! If your teen graduates next spring and intends to go to college, there’s a lot for your teen to do this school year (in addition to keeping up those grades, of course). Here’s a checklist to keep you and your teen on track:

  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You and your teen should complete this form as soon as possible after October 1. Check with the colleges to which your teen is applying to confirm their college financial aid deadlines.
  • Review the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will arrive via email within a couple of weeks of submitting the FAFSA. This is what colleges your teen listed on the FAFSA use to determine eligibility for financial aid. It’s essential that you make any necessary corrections to the information on this report as quickly as possible on the FAFSA website.
  • Explore an SAT or ACT prep class. If your teen is intent on improving that SAT or ACT score, Huntington can help. Check out our SAT prep and ACT prep programs for students who seek to improve on one or more SAT/ACT sections or raise their overall score. 

While the above tasks involve both you and your teen, here are several to-dos that are your teen’s responsibility:

  • Visit the guidance counselor. There’s so much to keep track of during senior year. The guidance counseling office is a great resource for information. Encourage your teen to stop by early in the school year to ensure your family is on track with all college-related tasks.
  • Register for the SAT or ACT one final time. If your teen wants to raise a score, fall is the best opportunity to do so before college deadlines come up. The February ACT exam is a last-chance option as well, depending on colleges’ application deadlines (the SAT isn’t offered in January or February).
  • Register for all required tests. Those include the SAT, ACT, Subject Tests and Advanced Placement exams.
  • Narrow the list of colleges. Your teen should decide on the top colleges on his or her list and collect all important information, such as application deadlines, application requirements (e.g. letters of recommendation or admissions essays) and scholarship/financial aid deadlines.
  • Request any letters of recommendation. Colleges that require such letters will expect them with your teen’s application package, so it is important for your teen to make such requests of teachers/counselors as early in the school year as possible.
  • Work on the essay. If a college requires it, your teen should give the admissions essay sufficient time and attention. It’s best to have a teacher review and edit the essay before it goes into the application package.
  • Start completing all applications in the fall. Early decision/early action deadlines can be as soon as November 1. Regular application deadlines tend to vary, but could also come as soon as January.
  • Assemble a list of all scholarship possibilities and start applying. Many scholarship deadlines fall between October and March, so by mid-fall semester, your teen should begin submitting those applications. Read our blog post on how to tackle the scholarship search.
  • Review acceptances and make a decision. Together, you and your teen should review and compare financial aid packages when they arrive in the late winter/early spring and discuss what college is the best fit from a financial perspective. Then, your teen must make his or her decision based on the factors of most importance (those might include location, field of study and cost) and notify his or her college of choice.

Need help getting your teen prepared for the SAT/ACT, SAT Subject or Advanced Placement exams? Want to help your teen finish high school with a strong report card? Call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn more about our learning and exam prep programs.


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