Smell that? It’s college!

Senior checklist

By now, you likely have some sort of goal or idea in mind for what you want to be doing after next summer. If that plan includes college, we’ve got your to-do’s right here!


Woo hoo! Rule the school!

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 eyeing. 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.

Senior year at school

Earn those top grades. 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 a challenging course load. 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 rigorous as it has been in the past. This will ensure that the image you present to colleges is consistent.

Remember that Brag Sheet you have been filling out since Middle School?  By now, this should be filled up with all the wonderful things you have done. Pull it out, sponge the Mountain Dew off of it, and use it to get some great letters of recommendation. Just remember to tell your teachers where to send them.

Standardized testing

It’s time to take the SAT and ACT, and be sure you’re prepared. Didn’t get that killer score you hoped for? No problem, retake the test 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 college

Get organized with your timeline and deadlines for application submissions. New information and requirements are going to come (and pass by) quickly, so make sure you stay on top of them. Start a Google Calendar, or sign up for email reminders, whatever works best for you. What’s important is that you get things done right and on time.

Do some planning. Use this guide to understand the pros, cons, and important stats of Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision.

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.Shoot to have this list finalized by fall.

Now that your list is narrowed down, visit colleges. Schedule a formal tour. Talk with an admissions officer or 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 want to apply to so that you can complete your applications. Lots of stuff to think about here. 

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

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!

Extra! Extra!

More free resources

Teacher’s Pet: Teaching resources

Tap into teacher guides loaded with lessons and project ideas, as well as tips and tricks for handling helicopter parents and inspiring unruly children.

Extra Credit: Student resources

Whether you’re preparing to get into college, or just need to get through the test at the end of the week, we’ve got tips, tricks, and test preps for you!

Please Wait...