Creating a schedule for your college prep to-do list is a great way to ensure you’re getting everything done on time. Here are some things you should be scheduling every season starting with spring of your junior year of high school.

Spring – Junior Year

Flickr user Joseph Palatinus

Your junior year is actually when you should start getting a bit more serious about your college prep. You probably already took the PSAT, the Pre-ACT, or both, but now is the time to tackle a few more projects. During the spring of your junior year, you should try scheduling your first real SAT or ACT attempt. Create a weekly schedule that allows for time to study on each section of the test prior to the exam date.

You should also be starting to think about what you want in a college during this time. Begin making lists of colleges that catch your attention and attend a few college fairs.

Checklist

  • Schedule the SAT or ACT
  • Start studying for the exams
  • Start thinking about colleges more seriously

Summer – Between Junior and Senior Year

Flickr user Patrick Emerson

The summer between your junior and senior year, your college search should get serious. Set aside time each week to think carefully about your needs, wants, and requirements in a college, but also what you want in the city or town the school is located in. Write down exactly what you’re looking for.

Then start on your research. What colleges are best for your major? What school fits your personality? Are there colleges that fit you perfectly that you hadn’t considered before? You should take a few hours at least every week to carefully investigate each college you’re interested in, even slightly, to find the ones you want to apply to. You may also want to write the colleges to ask specific questions.

The break is a perfect opportunity to actually take time to visit each college that makes the top of your list. Take day or weekend trips to the town and explore the campus.

During the summer, you’ll also want to schedule another SAT or ACT attempt or two. Towards the end of the season, start up your study schedule again. This is also the time to start researching scholarships.

Checklist

  • Write out your requirements in a colleges
  • Carefully research each college or university that interests you
  • Schedule visits to the schools, either on your own or with school sponsored tours
  • Sign up for a retake of the SAT or ACT
  • Start to research and apply to scholarships
  • Write down important deadlines for college applications and scholarships

Fall – Senior Year

Flickr user CAFNR

Fall of your senior year is the time to start filling out those applications. You’ve done your research, you’ve determined which schools fit your needs and wants, and deadlines are approaching. If you’re planning on applying for early decision or early action, you will have to start on this a bit earlier as the deadline is usually in December. For regular decision, many applications are due on January 1st, but make sure you’re double checking each individual school’s deadlines. Complete the applications well ahead of the deadline though to prevent any last minute disasters!

Create weekly schedules for completing forms, applying to scholarships, writing essays, and requesting letters of recommendation. Try to spread everything out so you’re not burning yourself out on any particular part of the process.

You should also be setting aside time for your retake of the SAT or ACT during this season. Take a look at your PSATs, Pre-ACT, and first attempts at either test. What did you perform poorly on? What could use some improvement? Dedicate much of your study schedule to these subjects, but also take time to take more practice tests at home.

Checklist

  • Complete college applications
  • Submit scholarship applications
  • Study for the SAT or ACT
  • Retake the SAT or ACT (once or twice)
  • Create a schedule for completing your college applications
  • Start working on your FAFSA application

This time period in your life can easily get hectic. Knowing the deadlines and dates for requirements, exams, and applications though can help you plan your year of college prep. Remember though, this is a guideline and you are more than welcome to get started sooner on each step! However, on the other hand, don’t put it off or you may find yourself struggling to cram everything in last minute.

And be sure to use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!