12th Grade College Preparation Timeline

By SAGE Scholars
June 20, 2022

The last hurrah is finally here! After four years of planning and preparation, you’ve finally hit the milestone of senior year. With this chapter about to close, you’ll spend this year looking toward the next chapter of your life: college! Among one of the most important and exciting years, you’ll this year put together all the pieces to create a standout college application. SAGE Scholars is here for it all! If you’ve followed our previous timelines, you’re an expert in all things college. We’re here to help you prepare for the admissions process and all the excitement that senior year has in store.


  • August and September: Continue to Visit Schools

    Early Fall is an opportune time to continue to visit college campuses. With students returning to classes, you’ll get a sense of what the campus looks and feels like with its students. With classes back in session, you’ll also have the opportunity to talk to Professors and students in passing to get their insight into on-campus life. If you’re particularly interested in a school, reach out to the admissions departments and see if they’re willing to let you sit in on a course.

  • August and September: Ask for Letters of Recommendation

    The earlier the better! Give letter of recommendation forms to the teachers you have chosen. This may include your resume or a list of extracurricular activities that your letter writers can speak about. Learn more of what sorts of activities letter writers can include in their recommendations. When asking a teacher, coach, or another individual to write your letter, make sure that you take the time to provide them with all the information they need to create something that highlights and amplifies your strengths. Stronger letters of recommendation emerge when the letter writer has a sense of familiarity with who you are and what kind of goals and aspirations you have for your future. Take time to have a conversation and discuss these things with your letter writers so they can feel more prepared to deliver a strong recommendation.

  • September and October: Finalize Your College Lists

    With the information you’ve gathered from your college visits, now’s the time to decide what schools you’ll submit your applications to. For more information on how to build and finalize your college list, take a look at our preparing for college admissions article. A good college list includes schools that you’re highly likely to receive acceptance to (also called safety schools); schools where an admissions decision could go either way and then some reach schools—where acceptance is a smaller possibility, but not impossible. When finalizing your list it’s important to keep an open line of communication with your support circle and college counselor.

  • September and October: Take Standardized Tests

    If your college accepts standardized testing, make sure that you register to take the SAT, ACT, or SAT subject tests during these months. If you think you’re going to need or want to take the test more than once, schedule to take the first test in September and the second in October. This gives you time to review, study, and improve on any areas you struggled with or believe you could perform better. Make sure that you have requested either by mail or online that your scores are sent to the colleges of your choice.

  • Meet with Guidance Counselor Regularly

    Your guidance counselor can help you to stay on track with admissions requirements. Meeting with your guidance counselor can also help you nuance your college search and fine-tune your application. Always ask questions!


  • Follow Up on Applications & Submit Financial Aid

    If you apply for early decision, you’ll have to monitor your application status. If you get accepted from your ED choice, make sure that you withdraw your applications from other schools. For your applications, generally, winter is a good time to follow up with your college counselor to ensure that all forms are in order and that they have been sent to your colleges. Further, reach out to college admissions departments to ensure that they’ve received your information, including test scores, transcripts, and recommendations.

  • Submit Financial Aid Forms

    It is incredibly important that you fill out the FASFA and the profile—if you haven’t already created an account. Regardless of your family’s income, the FASFA will determine how much you’re expected to pay. Don’t send these forms out until after January 1st because they cannot be processed until then.

  • Send Mid-Year Grade Reports

    Sending your mid-year grade reports strengthens your college application—especially if you’re taking AP’s and preforming well. Remember, schools will continue to keep track of your grades so it’s important to maintain your level of rigor and make satisfactory marks.


  • Keep an Eye on Your Inbox

    If you applied as a regular decision applicant, your decision will arrive around March or April. Notification will arrive separately for financial aid by the end of April.

  • Waitlisted? You Have Options!

    Waitlisted is not a rejection, and there’s still plenty of reason to remain optimistic. Keep watching your inbox. You can expect a decision sometime around May. However, keep your options open in case you do not move off the waitlist. Some schools have waitlist rankings. Reach out to admission and inquire whether they can let you know your position on the waitlist. If you’re far down, it’s not likely you’ll get in, and you’ll know that you can explore other options. If you’re higher up on the list—keep the hope!

  • Compare Financial Aid Packages

    It’s important that you consider all financial aid packages carefully and always ask questions if something is not clear. A quick call to a college’s financial aid department may save you a tremendous amount of financial stress later on. Make sure that you receive a FASFA acknowledgment. If you apply for a Pell Grant, you’ll receive a student aid report statement. Make a copy of this document for your records and send the original to the college you plan to attend.

  • Make Your Decision and Complete Enrollment Paperwork

    Congratulations! After years of hard work, the next chapter has begun. Notify all schools of your decision by May 1st. Make sure you send your deposit to your chosen school and ask your college counselor to send your final transcripts to the college in June. Once you accept your college offer, you’ll receive course scheduling, orientation, and housing information. It is essential that you complete this paperwork carefully and in a timely fashion.

SAGE Scholars

At SAGE Scholars, we deeply believe in the value and quality of private higher education. Our mission is to provide access to affordable college opportunities while bringing together families, colleges & universities, and benefit providers to create college funding solutions. Since 1995, SAGE Scholars has bridged the gap between students who want a quality private college education and colleges that will work closely with member families to ensure affordability — all at no cost to the student, family, or college. As the nation’s oldest, largest, and most trusted private college preparation and funding organization, we’re providing families with the guidance and resources they need for every step of the college process.
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