Timing is everything

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Summer before senior year:

* If you can, tour colleges that interest you, meet with financial aid representatives and, if possible have on-campus interviews. Don’t underestimate the importance of a tour. You must find the “best fit” university/college — it must “feel right” and that is something that is difficult to sense from printed material. If you are taking a tour, always do your homework before you visit. You will get a better feel for the place if you visit while school is in session and if you can stay overnight in residence, do so. This isn’t always possible, however. Make notes of your experiences. For tours of American universities, visit www.college-visits.com .

Register for SAT tests, if applying to American universities (if you didn’t do so last year).

* Get work/volunteer experience, where you can.

* Practice essay writing by downloading previous years’ application essays and start thinking about your personal statement.

* Start a “College File” to hold all the materials you accumulate on universities and colleges that interest you.

September of senior year:

* Finalise your preferred list of schools, including each of a “safety”, “good match”, and “reach” choice. View websites in detail, request college applications and information packages and sort into files.

* Download a college calendar for each of your choices, with all admission deadlines and assimilate these details in spreadsheet/tables.

* Schedule an appointment with your school counsellor and review your transcripts.

* Consider from whom you will request written references and line them up. Remember they are doing you a favour, so make their lives as easy as possible. Supply them with all the information they will need, including deadlines.

* Complete applications for all early action colleges to which you are applying (deadlines usually fall in December/November).

* Start working on college essays.

* Update or prepare your resume.

* Register for SATs if you need to and haven’t done so yet.

* Register for BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test), ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test) and HAT (History Aptitude Test), if you need to for application to United Kingdom universities.


* If you haven’t already done so, request letters of recommendation from your school counsellor, teachers, coaches employers etc. If possible, supply them with stamped, addressed envelopes.

* Make sure SAT scores will be sent to the appropriate colleges.

* Monitor deadlines for early action applications.

* Medicine, dentistry and veterinary science applications in the United Kingdom and Oxbridge deadlines.

* Personal statement and UCAS forms due for United Kingdom applications.

* Work on Canadian university applications.


* Submit American early action applications (as quickly as possible as in some cases admissions decisions are made as applications are received), if you haven’t done so already and keep copies of everything submitted.

* Wrap up college essays and follow up on your letters of recommendation.

* Make sure your SAT scores are sent to appropriate colleges.


* This is the deadline for regular applications in the United States. Keep copies of everything sent and make sure your SAT scores are sent.

* Early action (US) responses arrive this month.


* This is the deadline for receipt of UCAS applications in the United Kingdom.

* Early action (US) responses arrive this month, if they didn’t arrive last month.

* Some colleges require first semester grades, so where applicable, make you’re your grades are sent by your school counsellor.

* Research scholarships and prepare applications.


* Follow up with colleges to make sure your applications have been received.

* Stay focused on your schoolwork, as many colleges are looking for continuing good grades.


* As offers arrive, take note of the reply deadlines and conditions.


* Most admissions decisions and financial aid award letters arrive this month. Read each offer carefully and take note of reply deadlines and conditions.

* Make a final decision and mail your enrolment form and deposit cheque before 1st May. Send in any completed forms about residence.

* Notify all colleges that you are declining.

* If you are waitlisted, keep the college updated on your performance and continuing interest.


* If you are taking AP exams, make sure your AP grade report will be sent to your final-choice college.

* Study hard for your finals, as most admissions offers are contingent on your final grades.

* Thank everyone who has helped you in this process.


* Ensure that your final transcripts are sent to your final-choice college.


* Arrange housing, roommates and travel plans.

* Deal with any student visa requirements.

* Sign up for orientation and plan to get involved.

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Published Jan 3, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm)

Timing is everything

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