November Checklist for High School Seniors

By the time November rolls around, high school seniors are well into their final year of high school, and the newness of being the big man on campus has likely worn off. As the holiday break nears and the last semester of secondary education looms in the very near future, high school seniors must look farther ahead into what their futures hold.

If a high school senior plans to attend college the fall after graduating, November is an incredibly important month. While some college’s deadlines are later into the spring, many important tasks need to be completed and checked off in November or December. If you’re in the midst of preparing for college and need some more manageable tasks to take care of this November, we’re here to help. Utilize this November checklist for high school seniors to ensure all of your college applications get submitted on time and the entire process goes smoothly.

Make a List of Colleges

This should be done at the very beginning of November, if it’s not already done. You can simply write out a few colleges you’d like to apply to, or you can make a list of first choices, second choices, and third choices. You can start with just naming colleges you’re interested in, but be sure to do some research on admissions requirements, statistics, and more. Be realistic about the colleges you list, but also dream big. This is your education and your future we’re talking about, so don’t shy away from something just because it’s scary or overwhelming.

Note Admissions Deadlines and Other Important Dates

In the midst of your list-making and college researching, be sure to make note of important deadlines. Most colleges have early admissions deadlines in the fall and winter, with regular application deadlines in the spring. However, some schools are pushing up their regular admissions deadlines to even earlier, so be sure you know when you need to have everything submitted by. Make note of housing application deadlines, financial aid deadlines, and any other important dates that you need to be aware of. It may help to add all these dates to a master calendar so you can keep track of all your different colleges and their dates in one place. Having these dates written down will not only help you stay on top of applications and deadlines, but it will help you plan ahead with gathering any other information the school may need before you can officially apply.

Write and Finalize Admissions Essays

Not all colleges require admissions essays, but several do. It’s best to have an idea of what the essay should be about as early as possible so that you can write it and then take a break from it before going back to edit. If you write your admission essays early enough, you can also have a friend, parent, or teacher look them over for you to ensure they are as good as they can be. Be sure you know the topics, length requirements, and any formatting requirements for each different college’s admissions essays.

Fill Out Applications

This may be one of the simplest parts of applying to college. The applications themselves are likely pretty similar, and they all generally need basic information about you and your education. It may help you feel more comfortable filling them out if you have a parent or teacher with you when you’re actually putting the information into the application, so if you need to schedule a time for this, be sure to make note of that. Most colleges will let you save your applications and submit it at a later date if need be, so you can most likely finalize it at another time if you do have to ask someone a question or confirm some information. Be sure you have your application filled out before the deadline and have all the other pertinent information and documents submitted as early as possible.

Speak with Your High School About Transcripts

High schools are usually really great about getting official transcripts sent out to potential colleges, but you need to learn about what the process is for them to do so. Most schools require a small fee and an official application or request form to send your transcripts. Some schools will give you the transcripts directly, while others will only mail them. Find out what your school does, how long it takes for them to process a transcript request, and any other information you need to know. Also keep in mind that while your school may send your transcripts in November or December, the college of your choice will require an additional set of transcripts after you’ve completed all your classes and graduated, so be sure to ask your high school what you need to do and know about that as well.

Confirm Testing Results Have Gone to the Appropriate Places

If you took the SAT or ACT, you were likely given the option to have the testing administrator send your results to a few colleges you selected. As you go through the admissions process, be sure to confirm with the colleges that they did indeed receive your testing results. If they didn’t, follow up with the testing organization and request that they resend your scores. Additionally, if you haven’t taken either of these tests but need to, be sure to register for them and take them as soon as possible. If you need to retake them to try to improve your scores, do that as soon as you can. The sooner you get these tests out of the way and get your scores submitted to the colleges of your choice, the sooner you can move forward with applications and getting accepted into college.

Connect with Admissions Counselors & Confirm Requirements

Just as some colleges have essay requirements and some don’t, each college has different admissions requirements. If you can, connect with an admissions counselor at the schools you’re applying to and confirm what you need to apply. If you are unable to get in touch with an admissions counselor, there are other ways to check requirements and figure out if you’ve satisfied them. Most schools, upon applying, will give you a login to their student portal or online account. Your admissions status is typically updated there, and if you haven’t fulfilled specific requirements of the application, you can usually find out there as well. Find out if you need to pay an application fee, if you need to submit additional documents, and what else needs to be done before the school can give you an admissions decision.

Begin Discussions About Financial Aid & Begin Researching Scholarships

The sooner you begin having financial discussions about college, the better. Whether your parents are paying for college or contributing to it, you have scholarships, or you need to apply for student loans, the sooner you can confirm your financial status, the better off you’ll be. Most schools require you (or your parents) to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) regardless of your financial status, and that often requires tax information and other financials that you may not have access to. If you need to apply for financial aid, whether federal grants or private loans, you’ll need to know as soon as possible so you can be sure to meet all those deadlines. Additionally, you can start researching scholarships right away and begin applying to those. Many require essays, and the sooner you can begin applying for scholarships, the more funding you’ll receive towards your education.

Stay Focused on Your Current Schoolwork

All of these items may seem like a lot, but it’s important to get started on your college admissions process sooner rather than later. Be sure to remember that in the midst of meeting deadlines and writing essays and filling out applications, you still need to stay focused on your current schoolwork during your senior year. Your grades matter, and the better you do now, the more success you’ll have at getting into the college of your choice. Keep up with your extracurricular activities and stay engaged with your friends and family, and be sure to prioritize your schoolwork as well.

Senior year is an incredibly exciting time for any high school senior, and while it can be a bit overwhelming to think of all that needs to be done for college applications, this checklist should help you break down the tasks and make it all seem more manageable.