Applying for college is so exciting—and, at times, so overwhelming.

Where to start? How to start? When to start? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this Applying To College Checklist. We’ll tell you what to do and when to do it. 

11th Grade: Fall

  • Get ready to take your standardized tests 
  • Meet with your counselor and determine what your GPA and your grades mean for your options 
  • Go to college fairs and ask colleges that seem interesting to you for information
  • Build a list of colleges you like and that meet your criteria 

11th Grade: Winter

  • Finalize your college wishlist and narrow it down to the 7-10 that meet your criteria 
  • Talk to your parents about financial aid: What are you willing to take on? What are they able to help with? Is your school holding any financial aid events? Go check them out. 

11th Grade: Spring

  • Start applying for scholarships. Several private foundations and organizations offer scholarships to students from all backgrounds, so see if you qualify for something to get a clearer picture of your financial options
  • Think about whom you’re going to ask for a recommendation: teachers, guidance counselors, coaches or any other adult in your life who has positive things to say about you. Give them enough time to write the letters (they’re probably going to be writing several for other students, too) 

11th Grade: Summer

  • Visit your top-choice schools and talk to their admissions offices and financial aid counselors
  • Start writing your essays if your colleges are asking for them 
  • Determine if any of the colleges on your list are offering early-decision applications and decide if that’s something you’re interested in

12th Grade: Fall 

  • OK, it’s time to start really narrowing down your college list. You should’ve visited several by now. Keep touring and reading and get your list down to the four or five you especially love. 
  • Begin filling out applications 
  • Fill out the FAFSA: It opens Oct. 1 and the sooner you fill out the better your chances at getting more aid. 

12th Grade: Winter

  • Now’s the time you’ll be finding out which schools you made it into, which ones you didn’t, and which ones put you on the waitlist. Keep your own list of these responses and figure out what’s realistic for you in the fall 
  • Visit any of the schools you have been accepted to (or plan visits for the spring) so that you're super prepared to make your big decision in May

12th Grade: Spring

  • Compare your financial aid offers. What is each school going to cost you? What are the benefits of investing in a higher-cost school? Call each school’s financial aid office to find out everything you can about their offer and your options. 
  • Let each college know by May 1 what your final decision is and complete enrollment at the school you picked 

12th Grade: Summer 

  • Celebrate! Visit your school on Accepted Students Day, get in touch with your roommate, set your first semester’s schedule and get ready to have the best experience of your life. 

Interested in applying to Siena College? We think you should do it. Click here for more information!