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College Planning in Senior Year: Is It Too Late?

If you’re already into senior year, is it too late to plan for college and get accepted?

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It’s senior year and everyone is trying to figure out their next step. Maybe you just realized you want to attend college, or you're still undecided, but you'd like to keep your options open. Whatever the case, college is just around the corner. Some of your fellow students may have taken their SATs and turned in their early college applications.

But what if you haven’t begun your college planning process yet?

Some schools have rolling admissions all year. With these types of schools you can apply any time.

Is senior year too late? No.

While all of the upcoming deadlines and due dates might stress you out, just remember that it’s never too late to plan for college.

Even if you have already started your senior year (or you're almost done), you still have time to take the necessary exams, turn in applications, and get yourself one step closer to the college you are hoping to attend.

It will take some work, though. You have a lot to do and little time to do it, so staying organized and being diligent is important. The name of the game in the coming months is focus.

Preparing for College in Senior Year: How to Start

Having a good plan of attack will help you get through the college applications process as quickly and efficiently as possible. To start off, you will want to know which schools you want to attend.

If you are just getting to your applications in your senior year, it will benefit you to narrow down your choices of schools as much as you can: fewer applications means that you can devote more time to each. Use Campus Explorer’s comparison tool to help you narrow down your choices to five or six schools.

College Admissions Deadlines: How Much Time Do You Have?

If you are just beginning your senior year, breathe a sigh of relief: you still have a few good months to get your college applications in order and send them in.

The earliest application due date you are likely to see is November 1, and the latest will be sometime around May 1. Most colleges have an application deadline between January 1 and February 1, which gives you your entire first semester to put the best possible college applications together. Some schools have rolling admissions all year. With these types of schools you can apply any time.

Be sure to check the websites of the colleges to which you are applying in order to check their individual application deadlines.

Taking the Proper Tests

You should be able to register to take the SAT in October, November or December, and the ACT in October or December.

Make sure that you register and take the tests as soon as you can, so there is enough time to get your scores and include them with your applications.

Often, colleges will accept applications without scores and you can send them later after you have taken the tests.

Also, be sure to check the admission requirements for each college, as different schools require different scores. In fact, a handful of schools (such as Wake Forest) don’t require an SAT score at all.

After the Applications

Once you have your applications in (hopefully you made all of those deadlines!), you can make the long wait for those acceptance letters a little easier by taking some college prep courses, AP courses, or classes that challenge you. You’ll grow from the experiences and be better prepared for the next step, and sending a solid set of second-semester grades in challenging courses to the colleges you applied to will improve your chances of being accepted.

What If It Really Is Too Late?

If you’re already into your second semester, or you missed the deadlines for the colleges you want to attend, there are still options for you.

Remember, it’s never too late! You can always apply for winter term, which usually has an application deadline in or around October (the October after you graduate from high school, that is). If that doesn’t work, you can also try for an online school or community college that accepts late admissions and see if you can manage a transfer to the school of your choice after a semester.

And if all else fails, a “gap year” isn’t a terrible fate either. Sometimes it’s better to take a year off, gather yourself, and really dedicate the time you need to properly prepare for college, get the SAT and ACT scores you want, and put together solid applications.

After all, high school requires a lot of time and focus, especially during senior year. Worrying about the college application process at the same time can be a bit much. There’s no rush for you to start college right away. Just remember to stay sharp and keep reading and studying in that off year.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

10 Most Common Senior Year Mistakes
High School Senior Timeline and Checklist
Senior Year College Prep Schedule
College Planning: When Should I Start?

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