Planning Your College Application Timeline

It is best you start preparing for your college before your senior year starts. So, we are assuming you to be in a summer break before starting your senior year. If you have thought about studying in a US college. Preparing and sticking to a college application timeline is important for you to stay on track and keep away a lot of stress and panic. It is an important part of your college planning since knowing what to do and when are both important.

A college application timeline for you has been designed below which will help you excel your college application step-by-step by breaking the process into smaller parts. If you follow the timeline, you are sure to feel calm and ready by the application deadlines come around. Feeling comfortable is important.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Value Colleges in the United States


First and the easiest thing for you to start with is your Activities List. Make a resumé of all your activities, interests, and awards from your high school career. Be clever—your extracurricular activities are not the only activities you have done throughout your high school. There can be many independent activities you completed and many interests you developed. List them all.

Taught yourself a programming language on your own? Developed a style of writing? Any of such hobbies and related activities can be listed in order to show that you are an interesting learner. Once you have prepared the resumé, you can decide which 10 are the best and can include them in your Common App. Be careful—you need to narrow your descriptions to the 150-character limit.

  1. Summer break is the perfect time for you to brainstorm on your personal statement topics. Ask yourself every question possible in order to generate good topics to write on. You might see what others don’t. Once you start articulating ideas, you can jot them down and design them into small pieces of writings which can be used in writing personal statements. Have a thorough look at the Personal Statement Prompts in Common App so that you can choose the best fitting topics for you to write on.
  2. This is also the perfect time to start doing research on colleges in order to build your own college list. The list should not be the ultimate one since with further research you may like or dislike a college in the list. You need to be flexible while preparing the list. Include reaching schools, fit schools and safety schools in your list. You can visit college websites and learn about their programs in order to prepare a list of your preference. Keep the list of the specific programs and professors that interest you since you can use them in college-specific supplemental essays.
  3. College application timeline – key deadline: If you need to retake the SAT, registration for the August testing date is at the end of July. While there are still SAT dates in October and November that you can use, getting your last sitting out of the way in August will prevent stress when you’re working on other parts of the application (plus school, plus extracurriculars, plus….you get the idea). If you prefer the ACT, the registration deadline for the September ACT test date is August 10. You might need to take TOEFL or IELTS if you are an international student. They are quite frequent than the SAT and ACT. Take a favorable date and perform well.


  1. Done with the initial preparations? Now it is the perfect time to open a Common App account. Fill in all of the biographical information and begin to add schools to your profile. You’ll be able to see all of the supplemental essays for your colleges to know how many additional essays you’ll need to write.
  2. Your rough list of colleges and preliminary college essays need to be refined in order to prepare a solid draft. They can change as the time passes on, but it is wiser if you have taken significant steps when you have plenty of time.
  3. You will need letters of recommendation as well as a part of your application. Think strategically on which teachers you are going to ask to write letters for you. Your priorities should be the teachers who know you personally and who can describe your activities in their classes.  Colleges want to understand how active you were in your classroom. Your recommendation is the best way for colleges to find out how other people view you.


  1. After you have decided which teachers you are asking to write your letters of recommendation, it is time to approach them. Provide your teachers with specific cover letters and a list of elements that you think could help you in the application. The elements can be your personality or classroom work. Preparing such letters can help your teachers recall things and write letters for you inflow. Believe me, your teachers want to write letters for you but in a short time as they can, so they are obviously looking for your piece that makes them remember things.
  2. You need to know where you stand academically. For this, you can review your performance in internal examination result as well as your junior class examination result if they are out. Getting acquainted with guidance counselor would aid you a lot. A letter from this man will be an important part of your recommendation.
  3. This is the time to choose a few from your college list to apply for Early Decision or Early Action. The Early application deadlines are approaching and if you decide where you want to apply, you can use September to work on supplemental essays. These supplemental essays demonstrate your fitness for the college and how much you care about that particular college, so take time to tailor these to each college on your list. Many schools ask for a “Why this school” essay, so make sure that you include specific details about programs and professors that interest you. Remember the notes of colleges you took while doing research on them.


  1. Your standardized tests are out by this time, Send the scores of SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, TOEFL or IELTS, and AP score reports to colleges in your list. Give special focus to the colleges for which you have planned to apply early (either Early Decision or Early Application). Colleges can have minimum standardized test score requirements depending on their admission policy. Spend some time figuring out exactly which scores should be sent where and how each school on your list will analyze your test sittings. You should be able to leave out your lower scores at some schools if you pay attention to the requirements.
  2. Go through your Personal Statement, Activities List, and supplemental essay once again and edit them to produce a piece of each that you find fit for using in the early application. Make the final pieces such that they portray a holistic, coherent, and outstanding picture of you.
  3. Submit all your components to the college where you want to take the early decision or early action.

Also Read: How To Make Your College Essay Exceptional


You may get accepted early if you have done all the things right. Not just that, your acceptance is also going to rely on how the college of your early choice sees you. You applied early, but you might want to continue your efforts imagining the worst situations possible—your rejection. How confident you be, you need to be prepared for what can happen. So it is better for you to optimize your application for regular application. Prepare an ultimate version of your college list and get deeper into what those colleges look for, so that you can design excellent supplemental essays.


  1. You are about to reach where you want to—this is the final stage of your college application. Put your maximum efforts to make your application stronger than it has ever been in the process. You can ask your trusted friends and family to edit your essays because you can never be a better critic of yourself. You may read your essays loud in order to check how fluent and flowing they are and make necessary amendments.
  2. By now, you will have received Early Action or Early Decision. You have succeeded in the process if you have been accepted. If not, you’re still in good shape because you’ve prepared all of your materials in advance. All you have to do as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve is press the submit button. If you do get deferred, the world is not ending! You can submit a letter of continued interest to the college that has deferred you.

Also Read: Preparing For SAT By Yourself


  1. Submitting the application is not the end of your application process. You might have alumni interviews to prepare for. Take these as opportunities not only to give schools an idea of your character but to ask questions about the personality of the school. Ask the alumni about their experiences in the college. There is a difference between an interview and a question-answer session. Interviews are interactive. Make yours more.


You have basically done everything by now, but utilize this time to prepare yourself for the freshman year. You could inquire a lot about the colleges with the seniors and get to know more about the characteristics of the colleges. Also, you will know what to expect in the first year and therefore, you will be ready.


This is the month where the acceptance or rejection (hopefully not) starts coming in. Acknowledge the decision and ask the admission officer about the step you need to take further.

Also Read: Top 10 College Majors That Pay You Back


Many colleges’ decisions are due in April. Your colleges should be sending you acceptance letters by April 1. It is healthy to expect some rejections and waitlists, but be focused on colleges that accept you. You made it through and now you get to decide which school to attend. As you’re making this decision, be sure you’re making your choice based on which school is the best fit for you. Do not go just after the rankings and prestige of the colleges. Some popular colleges with good rankings may not have a learning environment that fits you. Assess how you fit into their campus and how their programs will help you achieve your long-term goals.


Most colleges seek a final decision by May 1st. Respond timely. 


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