There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
No matter how unsure you feel about taking that first step, every single one after that will be a little easier. It also helps if you have a plan to follow through your senior year—and here it is.
- Sign up for the ACT if you didn't take it as a junior, or if you aren't satisfied with your score.
- Review ACT test results and retest if necessary.
- Visit your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfilling college admission requirements.
- Consider taking courses at a local university or community college.
- Keep working hard all year; second-semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
- Ask for personal references from teachers, school counselors, or employers early in the year or at least two weeks before application deadlines.
- Follow your school's procedure for requesting recommendations.
- Visit with admissions counselors who come to your high school.
- Attend a college fair.
- Begin your college essay(s).
- Apply for admission at the colleges you've chosen.
- Find out if you qualify for scholarships at the colleges where you have applied.
- Start the financial aid application process.
- See your school counselor for help in identifying financial aid options and scholarships.
- If you need it, get help completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
- In January, ask your guidance office to send first semester transcripts to schools to which you have applied.
- In May, ask your guidance office to send your final transcripts to the college you will attend.
- Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll.
- Decide which college to attend, and notify the school of your decision. Also, notify the schools you will not attend.
- Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork.
- Continue to look for scholarship opportunities.
- Keep track of important financial aid and scholarship deadlines.
- Watch the mail for your Student Aid Report (SAR)—it should arrive four weeks after the FAFSA is filed.
- Compare financial aid packages from different schools.
- Sign and send in a promissory note if you are borrowing money.
- Notify your college about any outside scholarships you have received.
- Make sure your final transcript is sent to the school you will be attending.
- Consider getting a summer job. It can help pay for some of your college expenses.
- Make a list of what you will need to take with you for your dorm room.
- If you haven't met your roommate, call, write, or email to get acquainted.
- Read your housing confirmation carefully. Make sure you know the name of your dorm and any information provided about move-in day.
Learn how to get around at your new school. Review a campus map