College Application Action Steps for November

The College Application Process Heats Up


The college application process really begins to heat up in October and November of your high school senior year. Although it is possible to submit applications for regular admissions or rolling admissions much later in the scholastic calendar, most students are trying to get as much of the application process as possible completed by the end of the calendar year. To make sure you are moving smoothly along, here are five college application steps to take in November:

  • College Visits: If you haven’t already done so, you definitely need to make plans to visit the campus of your top two or three selections. Only an on-site visit can give you a true feel for the school, and may help finalize the decision of which one to attend.
  • Testing Considerations: If you don’t feel your test scores are high enough, you may want to schedule one more attempt at taking the SAT or ACT. You will have to hurry, though, in order to find a test date that is available before you begin sending in your college applications.
  • Application Considerations: If you know for sure that you want to go to a particular college, or have narrowed the list considerably, you should be applying for Early Decision or Early Action admissions soon. Those deadlines are very tight and you will need to act quickly if you have not begun already. Even if you decide to wait for regular admissions deadlines, it is a good idea to still work on your essays and letters of recommendation now.
  • Financial Aid Considerations: Know which financial aid application is required by the schools to which you are applying. The CSS/PROFILE is already available online, but the FAFSA will not be up until January 1. If you have your documentation together and your school uses the CSS/PROFILE, schedule some time with your parents to complete this important part of the financial aid process.
  • Scholarship Considerations: Scholarships can be very helpful in lowering your out-of-pocket expenses, but many of them have deadlines now so that they can make their awards by the end of the school year. Keep searching everywhere for scholarship opportunities and make sure you don’t miss out on any important deadlines.

You may also need to talk to your parents now more than you ever have before. Many are eager to help, but some won’t know that you are having problems unless you ask. Keep your parents informed of what needs to be done and ask them to help you with scheduling, planning and budgeting as necessary. Have a frank and open discussion with them about the costs of the colleges you want to attend, your likelihood of being awarded substantial financial aid, and the possibility of needing significant student loan assistance.

All of this must be done while still completing your high school career on a high note. Some students feel they can slack off once they have been accepted, or that they can drop out of extracurricular activities, but this is a bad strategy. Colleges can, and do, request senior year transcripts and have been known to revoke an acceptance offer. You could really be in a scramble then to find and apply to another college.

It is hard, but it is not impossible. Plan your work, work your plan, and start completing activities on your college to-do list. Before you know it, the application process will be completed and you will finally be deciding which college you want to attend next fall!