The most frequently asked question I get right now in my college admissions work is from parents of high school juniors who are starting to wonder:
What college-related dates do we need to keep in mind?
Here are my top five:
- Right now (early April). Sign up for the SAT or ACT right now if it hasn’t been taken or attempting a higher score is desired. Juniors have May, June, and August to take the SAT (and, in theory, October if necessary). The deadline for registering for the May SAT is April 6th and May 9th for the June ACT. For the June SAT, the deadline is May 3rd. There is still time to sign up for a prep course for either May or June.
- July 1. Incoming seniors should start right now drafting the personal statement and essays that accompany the college applications. The 2019 essay prompts will generally be released by this point, so students can check the admissions website of the colleges they intend to apply to in order to see school-specific essay prompts. The reason to start essays this early is to both get them out of the way before the school year starts as well as to provide plenty of time for editing these very important components of the application.
- October 1. The 2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will now be available online, and should be completed. This is the main financial aid form, and colleges generally will not award any kind of aid without it. Most colleges award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so having this form on file early is important.
- October 15 / November 15. These are the standard deadlines for many colleges’ early action/decision application, for those students who know ahead of time where they want to apply and hopefully attend. Some schools use October 15, and some schools use November 15. These deadlines sneak up quickly after the senior year starts, so it’s best to have as much application work done as early as possible. Incidentally, November 15 is the deadline for applying to the University of Washington, even though students don’t hear back until March.
- December 31. The regular admissions deadline for most schools is January 1. It’s a good idea to have the completed application for a January 1 school complete at least one full day before — or, ideally, well before — the first in case there are any issues with uploading or transmitting the application.
Of course, all of these application deadlines are dependent on the individual school, so students will want to check each school’s dates carefully and be aware of any looming deadlines.
What can be done to make all of this less stressful? An early start and plenty of time. I also work with students to prepare and update their master list to manage and track all of their college application deadlines.