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Applying to college can be a little intimidating given all the deadlines and time-sensitive logistics there is to juggle. Starting with junior year, there are tests to register for, summer programs to apply to, and college visits to schedule. Beyond that, there are essays to write, recommendations to gather, and applications to complete. Don’t let all the important dates and deadlines get the best of you.

 

Here, we’ve compiled the important dates of the college application process into a timeline, so that you can keep track of the various responsibilities you’ll need to take care of on your track to college. While some of these commitments may vary from student to student, we’ve covered all the basics. With this timeline, you’ll be able to think less about when you need to finish the first draft of your college essay, and more about how you can ensure it’s the best representation of your personality and ambitions.

 

As you use this timeline, keep in mind that some specific deadlines will vary from student to student. While these dates will certainly give you a rough idea of what should be accomplished when, a CollegeVine consultant can provide more insight tailored specifically to your unique situation.  

 

Read on for CollegeVine’s timeline for applying to college.

 

IDEAL TIMELINE FOR JUNIOR YEAR

DateTask
SeptemberBegin to keep an eye out for scholarship opportunities. While most are not due until senior year, some — especially larger awards — do have deadlines during junior year. Remain alert in order to capitalize on potential scholarships available to you.
September 15Confirm PSAT registration with guidance counselor if you plan on taking the PSAT. If none is offered at your school, contact other area schools to arrange a test date.
Mid-SeptemberRegistration deadline for October ACT, if applicable.
SeptemberGet serious about making your college list. Revise it throughout the year as needed.
OctoberTake the PSAT. Three dates are typically available, but the test will only be offered at your school once.
Early-OctoberRegistration deadline for November SAT, if applicable.
Late OctoberACT administration.
NovemberRegistration deadline for December SAT and ACT. Preview SAT Subject Test calendar dates and availability. Make a schedule that accommodates the tests you plan to take.
Early NovemberSAT and ACT administrations.
Early DecemberSAT administration.
Mid November – MarchDeadlines for many summer programs. Start planning now!
Mid-JanuaryRegistration deadline for February ACT. Take your first ACT now if you plan on taking it but have not already.
Winter-SpringAttend college fairs. Visit colleges if your schedule allows.
Mid-FebruaryTake your first ACT if you plan on taking the ACT and have not already. (NOTE: No ACTs available in New York State on this date.)
Mid-FebruaryRegistration deadline for March SAT. Take your first SAT if you plan on taking it but have not already.
Before March 1Confirm AP registration with AP teachers, or discuss registration with AP coordinators if self-studying.
Before March 1Check AP calendar for any potential exam conflicts. Speak with AP coordinator to coordinate a late-testing date if necessary.
Early-MarchACT administration date.
Mid-MarchSAT administration date. (NOTE: There are no SAT Subject Tests available on this date.)
Early-April and Early-MayRegistration Deadlines for May and June SAT administrations. Juniors should plan to take SAT Subject Tests on these dates.
Early-Mid MayAP Exams.
May-JuneThink about scheduling college visits as time allows over the summer.
End of Junior YearRequest teacher recommendations.

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IDEAL TIMELINE FOR SENIOR YEAR

DateTask
Summer BeforeResearch scholarships. Create a list of ongoing scholarships and important deadlines to keep in mind throughout the year. Many scholarships have deadlines as early as October and November.
Late-JulyRegistration deadline for August SAT and SAT Subject Tests.
August 1The Common Application is released online.
Early-AugustRegistration deadline for September ACT.
Mid-AugustFinalize your college list. Consider Early Decision-I or Early Decision-II options.
Late-AugustSAT administration date.
Early-SeptemberACT administration date.
Mid-SeptemberRegistration deadline for October ACT and SAT, if applicable.
SeptemberBegin brainstorming for essay topics. If applying ED-I, begin to draft essay.
September 7-October 1Contact MIT Educational Counselor (EC) to arrange interview for Early Action applications, if applicable.
October 1Confirm teacher recommendations for ED-I deadlines.
October 5Aim to complete first draft of essay for ED-I deadlines. Submit for editing and review.
Early-OctoberRegistration deadline for November SAT, if applicable.
October 12Complete Naviance or Guidance counselor brag sheet, if applicable. Preferences will vary by guidance counselor. Check with yours ahead of time.
October 12Send SAT/ACT and SAT Subject Test scores to all early action schools unless you are taking October ACT or November SAT.
October 15Aim to complete second draft of essay for ED-I deadlines. Submit for editing and final review.
October 15Register for CSS Profile, if applicable.
October 15Complete all steps for your high school to send your transcript to all ED-I schools.
Before October 21Meet with guidance counselor to pass along any notes you would like them to mention in their recommendation letter.
October 22Submit art or other supplement and/or Slideroom to all ED-I schools.
October 25Have a friend or teacher read through your final essays to catch any last typos for ED-I applications.
October 28Check in with your teachers to make sure that they have sent your recommendation letters in for ED-I applications.
Late OctoberSAT and ACT administrations.
November 1-15Typical Early Decision-I application deadlines.
November 3-23Contact MIT Educational Counselor (EC) to arrange regular decision  interview, if applicable
Early NovemberRegistration deadline for December SAT and ACT. This administration will be your last chance for SAT and ACT scores to reach schools for ED-II application and regular application deadlines.
Early NovemberSAT and ACT administrations.
November 10Aim to complete first draft essays and submit for editing and review for regular or ED-II applications
Before November 15Prepare for ED-I alumni interviews.
November 15Complete all steps for your high school to send your transcript to UC Schools and other 11/30 or 12/1 deadlines.
November 15Confirm teacher recommendations for regular and ED-II applications.
November 15Send SAT/ACT, and SAT II scores to all UC Schools and others with 11/30 or 12/1 deadlines.
November 15-22Rush October ACT or November SAT scores to all ED-I schools (if applicable).
November 22Submit art or other supplement and/or Slideroom to all UC Schools and other schools with 11/30 or 12/1 deadlines.
November 24Aim to complete second draft of essay for ED-II and regular decision deadlines. Submit for editing and final review.
November 30 or December 1Application deadline at UC schools and few others.
Early-DecemberSAT and ACT administrations. Last chance for SAT and ACT scores to reach schools for ED-II and regular application deadlines.
Mid-DecemberED-I decisions released.
December 10Have a teacher or friend read through your final essay to catch any last typos for regular or ED-II applications.
December 15Complete all steps for your high school to send your transcript to all regular or ED-II schools.
December 15Send SAT/ACT and SAT Subject Test scores to all regular or ED-II schools.
Before December 15Prepare for ED-II alumni interviews.
Around Dec. 20Rush December SAT or ACT scores for ED-II and regular decision application deadlines.
December 15- January 1Typical ED-II Application deadlines.
December 15Submit art or other supplement and/or Slideroom to all regular or ED-II schools (if applicable).
January 1-February 1Typical Regular Decision Application deadlines.
Before January 25Prepare for regular decision alumni interviews.
January-MarchDeadlines for many summer programs. Start planning now!
Before February 7Make sure your school sends mid-year reports to all regular decision schools that require them.
Mid-FebruaryED-II decisions released.
February 20Finalize and submit FAFSA and CSS Profiles.
Before March 1Confirm AP registration with AP teachers, or discuss registration with AP coordinators if self-studying.
Before March 1Check AP calendar for any potential exam conflicts. Speak with AP coordinator to coordinate a late-testing date if necessary.
Mid-March – Early AprilRegular application decisions released.
April 15Write waitlist letter and secure waitlist recommendation if applicable.
May 1Finalize your college choice or decision to take a gap year.
Early-Mid MayAP Exams.

 

Applying to college can get overwhelming quickly if you lose sight of important deadlines. Keep this timeline handy to ensure that you stay on top of important dates and anticipate what’s coming next.

 

For more insight, consider CollegeVine’s Application Guidance Program, which pairs you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current profile and aspirations. You’ll find support for every aspect of the application process, from creating a school list to preparing for interviews.

 

For more about applying to college, see these CollegeVine posts:

 

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Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist