College Planning Checklist for 12th Grade

hs senior college planning checklist

College Planning Checklist for 12th Grade

Published August 1, 2019 | Last Updated April 29th, 2023 at 08:53 am

hs senior college planning checklist

Academic and Extra Curriculum Suggestions for 12th Graders

  • First thing to do senior year—ask teachers for recommendations. Many students may ask the same teacher and the earlier you approach him/her, the better chance you have of them agreeing to write a recommendation and having the time to do it.
  • Discuss with your student whether they would like to apply Early Decision. Remember, if your student is accepted, Early Decision is a binding commitment that he/she cannot back out of (except under extenuating circumstances related to financial aid).
  • Create a list of all application due dates (Early Decision, Early Action, Early Decision II, Regular Decision, Rolling). Even if you are applying Early Decision, take advantage of any school on your list that accepts Early Action or Rolling decisions. Have your student submit their application Early Action and/or Rolling at as many schools that have it on his/her list.
  • Don’t slough off first semester grades. Senior fall is stressful. Students still need to keep up grades for the first semester, and work on applications and essays.
  • Attend college visits at your high school or night/weekend events held in other locations. Contact the schools on your student’s list to find out when admissions events may be held in your area. At each event, make sure you sign in so the college knows you attended.
  • Check for schools that will be in line with your student’s profile. Still unsure which colleges to apply to that will offer the most merit scholarships? Consider using our College Insights tool, to identify colleges, based on your student’s academic profile and your financial situation, where your student has a greater likelihood of getting needs-based or merit-based scholarships.
  • Create a list of questions for interviewers and have practice interviews with your family and friends. Some schools do require in-person interviews. This is a good opportunity for your student to really shine.
  • Confirm all schools your student applies to have received transcripts, test scores, recommendations, and financial aid forms.
  • In spring, make sure your student sends thank you notes to all teachers who wrote recommendations, and anyone else who has helped him/her through the process.

College Financing Suggestions

  • Review all suggestions from the 9th11th grade list. They still apply.
  • Learn from others what you should know about college costslike “your EFC will likely be the minimum you will be expected to pay,” and that “college scholarships sometimes have different (earlier) deadlines than application deadlines,” and much more.
  • Know which financial aid forms and calculations each school uses on your student’s college list. The financial aid forms are the FAFSA and the CSS Profile. Some schools use one of both of these form. Know that ahead of time before applying.
  • Continue your scholarship search. Local scholarships usually provide the best source of money for students. Learn these scholarship tips from a mom who knows—she helped her sons secure over $100k in scholarships to help pay for college.
  • Fill out the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms by the due dates. If you miss the date, you miss out on financial aid. FAFSA is available starting October 1st. The earlier you fill it out, the higher your probability of getting money, if you’re eligible. Review our list of frequently asked questions for the FAFSA and CSS Profile.
  • Understand and review your SAR (student aid report). Don’t be afraid to appeal, if necessary.


To help find merit scholarships use College Insights and narrow down schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend. 

You Might Also Like:

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True Stories of Private Scholarship Winners and How They Did It

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