Month-by-Month College Planning Calendar

Senior year of high school is a very exciting time! You get to begin looking at colleges and start planning for life after high school. Plus, you get to spend one more year enjoying your high school activities with your friends. In the busyness of it all, it’s helpful to have a month-by-month college planning calendar to keep track of everything to do throughout your senior year of high school, especially the important dates for college admissions.

Staying on top of these tasks and informed of what’s coming next should help you to be better prepared. But make sure to take it each month at a time so you can feel less stressed. Let’s dive into what a basic month-by-month college planning calendar looks like.

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College Planning Calendar: Monthly Checklist


  • Research potential colleges 
  • Take into account your major choice and future career options
  • Consider if the colleges on your list offer the major(s) you are interested in
  • Create a list of colleges 
    • Shoot for around 10-15 colleges on your list.
    • Build a list that includes safety, match, and reach schools
    • As you visit and learn more about the colleges on your list, you may be able to cross off some that aren’t your best fit. So, it’s okay to make your college list longer than 10-15
  • Attend college fairs and information sessions
  • Visit colleges and explore options
  • Ask your teachers, advisors, coaches, etc. for letters of recommendation
    • Asking for letters of recommendation in advance gives them plenty of time to write and get back to you, you may consider asking them before August (in the summer or end of junior year)
  • Begin brainstorming college essay topics and begin a simple outline
  • Schedule an SAT or ACT date for September or October (if you need to take/take it again).
  • Set academic goals for your senior year


  • Complete the list of colleges you want to apply to
  • Continue working on college essays or supplemental essays
  • Mark application deadlines on your calendar for each college 
  • Attend college visits and open houses
  • Use College Raptor’s Scholarship Search tool to find scholarships to apply to


  • FILE FAFSA! Most years, FAFSA opens on October 1.  (NOTE, for 2024, FAFSA will open by Decemeber 31, 2023)
  • Attend college visits and open houses for colleges at the top of your list
  • Continue applying for scholarships
  • Continue proofing and editing your college essay and supplemental essays
  • Begin filling out college applications
  • Submit college applications for early decision and early action before the deadlines
  • Confirm transcripts and letters of recommendation are sent
  • Check financial aid deadlines and mark the dates in your calendar


  • Submit regular decision applications before the deadlines
  • Confirm transcripts and letters of recommendation are sent
  • If you haven’t already, work on financial aid forms (FAFSA, CSS Profile)
  • Continue applying for scholarships
  • Continuing to work hard in school to keep or increase your GPA 


  • Submit any remaining regular decision applications before the deadlines
  • Confirm transcripts and letters of recommendation are sent
  • Continue applying for scholarships
  • Check application status for any early admissions
  • Volunteer or get a seasonal job. Now’s a great time if you still need some things to help make your application shine.


  • File FAFSA. For 2024, FAFSA opens on Decemeber 31, 2023
  • Check the application status for each college you applied to
  • Keep searching for new scholarships, mark deadlines in your calendar
  • Continuing to work hard in school to keep or increase your GPA 


  • Check for offer letters in the mail.
  • Narrow down college choices and make secondary visits or interviews if necessary
  • Consider housing options and submit any necessary forms
  • Search for and apply to summer jobs or internships


  • Narrow down college choices and make a final decision
  • Compare financial aid offer letters from each college
  • Send in any required enrollment deposits
  • Continue searching for and applying to summer jobs or internships
  • Check for any extra paperwork required by the chosen college


  • Review and complete housing arrangements
  • Begin preparing for AP exams or final exams
  • Notify colleges of your decision by May 1 (National College Decision Day)
  • Start thinking about and planning for the transition to college


  • Take AP exams or final exams
  • Plan for graduation and any related activities
  • Confirm housing details and connect with future roommates
  • Begin a packing list for college
    • Starting this early is helpful, write down things you use in a day in your current home and add things you’ll need for your dorm
  • Mark your calendars and prepare for any summer orientations if your school offers one


  • Attend graduation ceremonies
  • Check and complete any leftover college paperwork
  • Continue your packing list for college
  • Work a summer job to save money for college
  • Enjoy time with your family and friends


  • Enjoy the last moments at home in your hometown
  • Familiarize yourself with college orientation materials
  • See if your school made a Top Colleges or Hidden Gems list, just for fun.
  • Attend orientation where you can ask aid questions, register for classes, and more.
  • Head to school and start your academic journey!

We suggest copying and pasting this list into a document and adding any extra or personal requirements you may have. Then use this plan in whatever way works best for you—maybe you print it out and tape it to your fridge or create a digital checklist.

Wondering what you need to do BEFORE senior year?

Looking to get started on your college search? Use College Raptor’s College Match tool and let us help match you to colleges based on GPA, major, location, test scores, and culture!