It’s December – What Should Your College-Bound Senior Be Doing Now?

Published by Wendy Nelson on

It’s December.  What should your college-bound senior be doing now? It’s time to transition from college applications to college selection. With the new year will come the push to maximize your student’s merit and/or need-based aid.

Here is a list of things to make sure to get done before the year is over.

  1. Finish any final college applications.  If possible, have all applications in before Christmas. Even if some are applications with rolling deadlines or January due dates, your student will be able to breathe easier having all the applications done.
  2. Check with his/her high school counseling office to make sure they have submitted all materials for college applications – transcripts, counselor recommendations, etc.
  3. While at the counseling office, ask about listings of local scholarships. Often, the biggest group of local scholarships have deadlines in the Spring. Now is a good time to know what’s available and to start tracking deadlines and scholarship requirements on a tool like my Scholarship Tracker.
  4. Make sure all teacher recommendations have been completed. With the Common App, it will be easy to tell. Otherwise, ask the teachers if they have submitted everything.
  5. Log in to any online portals provided by the schools where he or she has already applied to check college application status. If anything shows as incomplete, take care of this right away.
  6. Look for any additional scholarships offered by the schools she/he has applied to, especially ones with separate applications.  (These should be posted on the school’s website.) Many will have deadlines in the next few months.
  7. Make sure FAFSA has been filed, if applicable, and all colleges he/she is applying to have been listed on the FAFSA form.
  8. Make sure any other financial aid paperwork and forms (CSS profile, institution-specific forms) have been turned in.
  9. Keep track of all application notification periods/dates and have them listed somewhere that it is easy for everyone to reference so you all don’t keep wondering when you will hear something.
  10. Start tracking all the decisions and merit awards as they come in on a spreadsheet. The second and third tabs of my College Search Spreadsheet are designed to make this easy.
  11. Concentrate on studying for semester final exams and work on final papers. Grades from first semester of Senior year definitely matter!
  12. Relax and enjoy the holidays! Make sure your student gets a well-deserved break from the college application and selection process.

At this point in the college search process, you all need a break from all the stress of deadlines and the anticipation of decisions and aid awards. Make sure you all take time for family experiences and just to enjoy being with your college-bound Senior.