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College 101

Article Type: Checklist

Seniors! Woo Hoo! Class of (insert year) is the best! More Woo Hoos!

Calm down. Yes, it’s awesome to be a senior. You rule the school. There’s senior cut day. Prom. Maybe you get that parking spot you’ve been eying.

But guess what? There’s also Senioritis. Nothing can derail your college quest like a nasty case of this disease. And it’s contagious. So wash your hands.

Besides good hygiene, what else needs to be taken care of senior year? The short answer is lots. Last stretch…so let’s make it a good one.  


  Earn the Best Grades You Can. Senior year grades are very important. Don’t be that student who lets their grades slip during second semester. It’s ok to take it easy a little, but any major GPA declines and colleges might even rescind their offer. Having a bout of Senioritis? Let Shmoop help with some fun videos to watch and some handy Study Guides.

  Take the Most Challenging Course Load You Can. Senior year is when you’re most prepared for college, which translates to taking some of the most challenging classes of your high school career. And colleges know it. So, make sure your schedule is just as or more rigorous than it has been in the past to make sure the image you present to colleges is consistent.

Standardized Testing

  Prepare for the SAT and ACT and make sure that you take or retake them if you’re unsatisfied with your scores. Odds are you’re going to send these in with your college applications, so take them and take them seriously.

  Take another SAT Subject Test in the fall. Don’t wait until after winter break; it may be too late to submit results. Remember that some of the more competitive colleges require that you take some of these. If you are shooting for one of these schools, don’t wait until the last minute to take them.

Applying to Colleges

  Get Organized with your Timeline and Deadlines. New information and requirements are going to come (and pass by) quickly, so make sure you stay on top of them. Link to our calendar so that they can track deadlines and test dates.

  Figure out where you want to apply Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision.

  Finish Up Your Brag Sheet. By now, this should be filled up with all the wonderful things you have done. You should be the leader or superstar of at least one extracurricular activity. Your teachers should know you as the student who always takes on leadership and gets stuff done in class.

  Request Letters of Recommendation if you haven’t already. Remember that Brag Sheet you have been filling out since Middle School? Pull it out, sponge the Mountain Dew off of it, and use it to get some great letters. Just remember to tell your teachers where to send them.

  Visit Colleges. You should be Narrowing Down Your List of Schools, so this is the time to let the schools actually know you are visiting and are interested. Schedule a formal tour. Talk with an admissions officer or even schedule an interview, if possible. Sit in on some classes or talk to a coach. The goal here is to get a feel for specific schools you may apply to.

  Narrow Down Your List of Schools. Now is when you need to refine your Big List down through research, visits, talking with counselors and family, etc. to the list of schools where you will apply. Shoot to have this list finalized by fall.

  Submit Financial Aid forms. Paying for college is tough, and Shmoop is here to help you find the money.

  Complete Your Applications. Lots of stuff to think about here. Make sure to stay on top of your deadlines. Start a Google Calendar, or sign up for email reminders, whatever works best for you. What’s important is that you get them done right and on time. Then we can just cross our fingers and hope for the best.

  Know when your decision is due and have your deposit in on time. Eventually, you are going to have to make a choice of where you will go. Choose wisely, grasshopper.

If you're already accepted, check out how to Prepare for College!

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