High School Senior Timeline
First, and foremost, “Congratulations!” You are almost to the high school ‘finish line! Soon you will be able to pat yourself on the back; just not yet! We still have some work to do! Get ready, be organized start early and DO NOT procrastinate!
DIDN’T START EARLY? WORK OVERTIME
Hopefully, you have been following all the advice in the preceding years: If you have not, you are REALLY behind. Does that mean you are facing an insurmountable obstacle? No. It simply means you have to work overtime (but hopefully, you do not find yourself in that situation).
CHART A COURSE
During the summer months preceding your senior year, you should plan to effective “chart a course” for scholarships for which you intend to apply. Start your scholarship search early! You should have already created a list of scholarships for which you intend to apply. The fall prior to high school graduation has some very generous scholarships for which you can only apply as a high school senior! Do not let this opportunity to obtain much-needed financial aid pass you by! In many cases, this is a once-in-a –lifetime opportunity, so be certain not to squander it! Be organized with a calendar of all your important scholarship application deadlines! Have electronic reminders, either via email or telephone, to remind you, in advance, of impending deadlines. When you enter your senior year you will be overwhelmed with college applications, graduation requirements (to say nothing of your classwork/homework), so do what you can to be ready for the onslaught of important tasks and deadlines going into this final “stretch!’ Above all, do NOT wait until after you have applied for college to start searching for scholarships!
FINALIZE LIST OF COLLEGES
Finalize your lists of schools you plan to apply for during your summer hiatus. Make decisions about Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision. This is important as it may relate to you being considered for certain institutional scholarships for incoming freshmen. Have your list of colleges divided accordingly and note important admissions deadlines.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
The summer prior to your senior year is also a great time to finalize your requests for letters of recommendation for the upcoming academic year. Knowing, in advance, which instructors, community/civic leaders, etc., you intend to ask for a letter of recommendation, will alleviate quite a bit of the anxiety and stress you will experience during this final year of high school. Be sure to attach a resume/student credential to your requests, as it will give the person providing the reference an opportunity to detail your activities and accomplishments. Keep in mind that you will not be the only senior requesting letters of recommendation, so as a practical matter, this will greatly assist the person providing the recommendation. Finally, in this regard, be sure to include stamped and properly addressed envelopes to persons from whom you are requesting a letter of recommendation.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Do you scholarship research. It is important to know whether or not any of the colleges or universities in which you’re interested use your application for admission as your scholarship application. This is significant because in many instances, this will effectively be your only opportunity to be considered for those scholarships exclusively for incoming freshmen, which may be renewable. Accordingly, you would do well to commit to making your admission/scholarship application the best possible (hopefully, you have already made that commitment)! If you learn that the college(s)/university(ies) in which you are interested employ this process, plan in advance and put the necessary time and effort into making your admission/scholarship application unforgettable (in a positive way)!
Continue to take progressively challenging coursework (Yes, even in your final year). A great number of schools request either your transcript through the first semester/quarter of high school and/or request information regarding the courses you are taking. It will bode you well to be viewed as continuing to challenging yourself academically, even on the “eve” of graduation.
MEET WITH GUIDANCE COUNSELORS
Meet early and often with your guidance counselor. Confirm you are on track for graduation. If your counselor has summer hours, schedule an appointment to meet with him or her to discuss any issues and/or post-secondary plans you have. Confirm that required documents have been forwarded to all the schools to which you have applied. Obtain an official transcript to keep on hand at home in the event you need a transcript at short notice. You will have to contact your counselor frequently during the final stage of this all-important process, so if you haven’t already, make yourself visible and known!
APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS OFTEN AND EARLY
You can’t win scholarships for which you don’t apply. Apply often and early in the event of an untimely and unforeseen circumstance (believe it or not, they happen and usually at the worst possible time)! As a rule of thumb, apply for as many scholarships commensurate with your financial need. Consequently, if you need a lot of financial aid, apply for a lot of scholarships! You can do much to reduce reliance on student loans, so do what you can to insure you are not bankrupt before you ever get your first job. There is a lot of money available for students willing to take the time and make the effort! Keep in mind that when you are applying for a scholarship, you are essentially asking someone who, more often than not, does not know you for free money. Make sure your application is illustrates your recognition of this oft-ignored fact. Take the time to make your application substantively meaningful and error-free. Make it a practice to have each and every application reviewed before you submit it. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. This will require you to start applications in advance, but you will find it well worth the effort.
BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR SCHOLARSHIP SEARCH AND FUTURE ENDEAVORS!
You are about to embark on what will likely be the best part of your young lives and we wish you nothing less than much success in both your educational and personal pursuits!!