When should I apply for college?

The ideal time to apply for college is October through January of your senior year of high school. This gives you time to schedule visits, campus tours and learn more about the admission requirements for each college you’re interested in.

But there’s a lot that happens before, during, and after that window of time that could affect your application.

Summer Before Senior Year

The summer before your senior year of high school is the best time to start narrowing down your college choices before you become busy with activities and homework during the school year. Start looking at each application’s requirements so you can begin gathering the necessary paperwork. Some colleges also require letters of recommendation, so decide which teachers you can request help from for this task.

October Through January

October through January is when you want to finish most of the application process. If you’re applying for an early decision, you’ll usually have to have your application in by November. Make sure your high school transcript and SAT or ACT scores are complete and ready to send in with your application.

Also, keep in mind that if you want to get the highest possible amount of financial aid, you’ll want to think about submitting the FAFSA® as early as the beginning of January.

If you need help creating a chart to make sure you’re keeping up with important deadlines, consider meeting with your school’s guidance counselor.

February Through April

At this point in the school year, you’ll want to have all your applications submitted. Your main focus is keeping up your grades so the colleges you’re interested in don’t revoke their offers of admission. Some colleges will start sending out acceptance letters as early as February. However, don’t worry if you don’t hear anything right away since some wait until April.

Make sure you keep track of all acceptances, rejections, and waitlist offers you receive. If you get a letter of acceptance from a college you’re no longer interested in attending, turn down the offer right away to open up a spot for a fellow applicant.

While applying for college might feel like an overwhelming process, keeping this timeline in mind will prepare you for the best time to apply and when you can expect to hear a decision.

Goodsell, Jonathan. Which College Is Right For You? 3 Questions To Ask Yourself. U.S. Department of Education, 9 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Feb. 2018.
Baik, Michelle. You’ve Applied to the CSU: Now What? California State University, 7 Dec. 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2018.