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Welcome500彩票app to GreatSchools’ interactive college prep timeline!

Here’s what to do month-by-month, year-by-year, to get your high 500彩票 student prepped for and successfully through the college application process.

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12th grade college prep timeline


Get together and make a plan

500彩票appGet together and make a plan

Make an evening of sitting down with your child and going over your mutual strategy for the year ahead. Some talking points: your teen’s goals, what to do when things get stressful, and how to make sure you’re communicating well.


The 5 best college admissions books

500彩票appThe 5 best college admissions books

There are lots of titles out there and you don’t need to read them all. But browsing one or two is a good way to prepare for college admissions season. Here are our 5 favorites.


Get organized

500彩票appGet organized

Create a calendar with all relevant deadlines for applications, financial aid, and scholarships. Use labelled folders for the information you receive about each 500彩票.


Register to take the SAT or ACT this fall

500彩票appRegister to take the SAT or ACT this fall

Your teen may have already taken the SAT or the ACT, but just about everyone should take these tests twice and try to improve their score. Have your teen register now for a test date in the fall, so that scores are in before applications are due. And check out the best strategies for raising SAT and ACT scores.


Help your teen make a college list

500彩票appHelp your teen make a college list

Work with your teen to make sure the 500彩票s on the list meet their criteria in terms of location, size, cost, majors and courses of study. Feel free to suggest 500彩票s for your child’s list, but don’t disregard 500彩票s they are interested in out of hand. And remember that the most expensive 500彩票s often have more financial aid money. Here’s how to compile a list.


Talk to your teen about her reach 500彩票s

If your child is dreaming of a “reach” 500彩票 (one where the chances of being accepted are slim), you want to encourage your teen to aim high and work hard, while also being open to other options and resilient to rejection. These talking points will help.


Consider applying “early action”

500彩票appConsider applying “early action”

Investigate whether or not the 500彩票s your child is interested in applying to have Early Decision or Early Action admissions programs and whether early admission is a good strategy for your child.


Make contact and show interest

500彩票appMake contact and show interest

Private colleges tend to weigh signs of interest (e.g. visiting the campus, interviews, even reaching out to ask questions) positively. If you can, it’s a good idea to visit 500彩票s your teen is considering applying to. If teens can’t go in person, they can take a virtual tour. Teens can also email the admissions office to express interest and ask thoughtful, sincere questions.


Ease college admissions anxiety

500彩票appEase college admissions anxiety

Let’s start with the good news: Nearly seven out of every 10 seniors who apply to a 4-year college get in. Knowing the latest college admissions trends can help ease your teen’s anxiety about the process ahead.


Meet with a college counselor

500彩票appMeet with a college counselor

Whether it’s the college counselor at your child’s high 500彩票 or a private college admissions advisor, make an appointment to review your teen’s college list, set expectations around reach and safety 500彩票s, and discuss application timelines and strategies. Ask if they can share historical admissions data — the number of applicants from your high 500彩票 admitted each year and their GPAs and test scores — for the colleges on your teen’s list.


Apply early action/early decision

500彩票appApply early action/early decision

If your teen is applying early, it’s time to get to work on the application! Your teen should ask teachers to write recommendations and let them know she’s applying early and what the deadlines are. If your teen hasn’t yet, she must take (or retake) the SAT by October for early applications.


Teach your teen how to ask for letters of recommendation

500彩票appTeach your teen how to ask for letters of recommendation

There’s an art to requesting letters of recommendation — determining who to ask, how to ask, and, crucially, when to ask.


is the application for federal student aid (grants, federal work-study, and student loans). PROFILE is an for non-federal financial aid and scholarships. Both are available starting October 1. It’s a good idea to be an early bird, as grants and other aid are typically offered on a first come, first served basis. This month, register for a so you have one when FAFSA filing opens on October 1st.


Have your teen look at their social media presence

500彩票appHave your teen look at their social media presence

It’s time for your teen to clean up their social media presence, if necessary; college admissions advisors will be looking at it to get an idea of who they are and what they’ll bring to campus culture if admitted. Learn more and check out 12 other surprising tips for applying to college.


Encourage revisions

500彩票appEncourage revisions

Your child has worked hard on a draft (or a few drafts) of her college essay. Encourage her to take another pass at it before deciding it’s ready to submit. Here are six tips for helping your child hone, strengthen, and polish their essay.


, which is the application necessary to receive federal grants and loans, using last year’s tax return and forms. Some 500彩票s and states use the FAFSA to determine their grants and scholarship awards, too.


Finalize the college list

500彩票appFinalize the college list

Work with your child to nail down where they plan to apply — and what their early decision/early action, second round ED/EA, and regular decision application plans are. (Need help with the college list? Here are tips.)


Make a master checklist

500彩票appMake a master checklist

It’s time to create one giant checklist — with deadlines — for your child’s college applications. Remember to include things like: filling out the FAFSA and/or the PROFILE, having transcripts sent, asking for recommendations, delivering recommendation materials, making sure recommendations are sent on time, having test scores sent, finishing short-answer questions, and timelines for writing drafts (and finishing) their college essays.


to determine financial aid? If so, look up the deadlines associated with each of the 500彩票s your child is applying to — you don’t want to miss financial aid deadlines.


and test and registrations dates.) If your teen plans to give either test another go, register for these final tests now.


Know the difference between federal vs. private student loans


Check out these scholarships

500彩票appCheck out these scholarships

Your teen has a lot on their plate right now, but applying for these scholarships now could save a lot of money down the road.


Plan a college visit

500彩票appPlan a college visit

Can your child visit any of the local (or not-so-local) colleges on their list over the Thanksgiving weekend?


Prep for interviews

500彩票appPrep for interviews

Will your teen be interviewed by an alum or admissions officer as part of the application process? If so, help him practice. Do a couple of mock interviews with your teen so he can practice answering questions about himself, why he’s interested in attending the 500彩票, and what he plans to study once he’s there.


Consider community college

500彩票appConsider community college

Community colleges were developed to be a bridge from high 500彩票 to college and to prepare students for the job market. Four out of 10 college-bound high-500彩票 graduates go this route. Here’s how to decide if community college is a good choice for your child, plus one family’s story of how community college gave their son a second chance at his first-choice college.


It’s crunch time

500彩票appIt’s crunch time

Your teen is likely preparing for finals, and college application deadlines are coming right up. Check in and see how you can support them through this final push.


Apply early to 500彩票s with rolling admissions

500彩票appApply early to 500彩票s with rolling admissions

If your teen is applying to any 500彩票s with rolling admissions, encourage them to get their applications in now, rather than waiting until the last minute. Since these 500彩票s admit applicants on a continuous basis, the earlier your teen applies, the better their chances of getting in.


How to talk to your teen about their reach 500彩票

500彩票appHow to talk to your teen about their reach 500彩票

Talk it up? Pretend it doesn’t matter? An expert shares how to support your child’s dream when they might not make the cut.


Was your child accepted early decision?

500彩票appWas your child accepted early decision?

If so, congrats! Remind your teen to withdraw any applications they have submitted elsewhere.


Last chance at the SAT

500彩票appLast chance at the SAT

If your teen is taking the SAT this month, take a moment to check the application deadlines for the 500彩票s your teen is applying to. Will your teen need to request (and pay for) “rush” scores? Now’s the time to find out.


Submit a mid-year grade report

500彩票appSubmit a mid-year grade report

If any of the colleges your teen has applied to require a mid-year grade report, your teen should check in with their high 500彩票 counselor to make sure those grades are reported as soon as they’re available.


Plan to visit the colleges on your teen’s short list

500彩票appPlan to visit the colleges on your teen’s short list

Has your senior visited his top-choice 500彩票s yet? It’s a good idea for him to see 500彩票s in person before making a final decision to attend (or not). Here’s how to make the most of a college visit.


If your teen is thinking about a gap year, talk it over

500彩票appIf your teen is thinking about a gap year, talk it over

Although the term is generally used to mean taking time off after high 500彩票, technically, a gap year is when students who’ve been admitted to college formally request to delay their start date for a year to travel, work, or volunteer. Is a gap year a fantastic idea, or risky, expensive procrastination? These questions will help you decide if a gap year is right for your child.


Remind your teen that grades still matter

500彩票appRemind your teen that grades still matter

Now’s a good time for a gentle reminder, if your teen needs one, that even though applications are done they still need to keep their grades up. Some colleges require a mid-year grade report. Others may revoke an offer of admission if a student’s grades on their final transcript don’t meet the 500彩票’s expectations. So as tempting as it may be, now’s not the time to slack off.


Support your child as decision letters arrive

500彩票appSupport your child as decision letters arrive

Accepted? Rejected? Here’s how parents can help their high 500彩票 seniors put college admissions decisions in perspective.


Have conversations about consent

500彩票appHave conversations about consent

If you don’t already have ongoing communication with your teen about this important topic, make it a part of your conversations about college culture. Talking with your teen about sex, safety, and consent is an essential parenting responsibility.


Follow up on wait lists

500彩票appFollow up on wait lists

If your teen was waitlisted at a 500彩票 he really wants to go to, he should politely reach out to the admissions office on a regular basis. Encourage him to write a positive, upbeat letter or email about why he wants to go there, ask a teacher to write an additional letter of recommendation, and let the 500彩票 know about any new accomplishments. Persistence really can pay off.


Compare financial aid offers

500彩票appCompare financial aid offers

Help your child compare financial aid offers to choose a 500彩票 that’s truly the best fit. If your child has an incredible offer of aid from one 500彩票 but has their heart set on another 500彩票 that offered less, reach out to the financial aid office of your child’s top choice. Explain the dilemma and ask if there’s anything they can do.


Beware of for-profit colleges

For-profit colleges have been criticized for deceptive marketing, targeting low-income students and vets for the federal tuition money they’re eligible for, offering poor-quality programs, low graduation rates, and for leaving students with staggering debt and few job prospects. If your child is considering a for-profit college, here’s what you should know.


Acceptances are due soon!

500彩票appAcceptances are due soon!

Most final decisions are due, in writing, by May 1st — and most need to be accompanied by a deposit. Check your teen’s 500彩票’s deadlines and requirements. (Also, remind her to decline the offers she won’t be accepting.)


Will your child live on campus next year?

500彩票appWill your child live on campus next year?

Research shows there are academic benefits to living on campus in college. Also good to know: Some 500彩票s, including Duke University, are no longer letting incoming freshmen choose their first college roommates. Here’s why.


Does your teen have these 14 life skills?

500彩票appDoes your teen have these 14 life skills?

The end of high 500彩票 will be here before you know it. How prepared is your teen for adult life?


It’s time to enroll!

500彩票appIt’s time to enroll!

Offer support as your teen completes and submits enrollment forms for the 500彩票 she’ll be attending in the fall; she should have received information on enrolling in courses, orientation sessions, on-campus housing, health insurance, and more.


Suggest thank you notes

500彩票appSuggest thank you notes

Encourage your teen to write short, heartfelt thank-you notes to anyone who was particularly helpful in the college application process — the counselor, the teachers who wrote letters of recommendation, and anyone else who helped.


When your teen’s peers are headed to college, and he isn’t

500彩票appWhen your teen’s peers are headed to college, and he isn’t

Help him formulate post-high 500彩票 plans so he feels confident talking with family and friends who ask about his future.


Make a list of supplies to take to college

500彩票appMake a list of supplies to take to college

Help your high 500彩票 graduate pack for dorm life with this handy list of items they’ll need.


7 things to teach your college-bound teen about credit cards

500彩票app7 things to teach your college-bound teen about credit cards

College500彩票 students are flooded with credit card offers on and around campus. Here’s what to tell your teen now (before they’ve got a card — or a big balance).


12 tips for helping college students avoid theft

500彩票app12 tips for helping college students avoid theft

Half of all on-campus crimes are thefts. Here’s how to help teens protect their laptops, smartphones, bikes, and other valuables.


Letting go: tips for parents of new college students

500彩票appLetting go: tips for parents of new college students

After 18 years of parenting, it can be hard to let go. Here is a sneak peek at the challenges of the transition ahead and advice to prepare right now.


Don’t hover

500彩票appDon’t hover

In recent years, colleges have reported that helicopter parents are making their presence felt on campus. These well-meaning parents intervene in roommate disputes, register their adult children for classes and question professors’ grades. Experts agree that this behavior has negative consequences for students. Here’s how you can avoid hovering.

About our 12th grade college prep timeline

The road to college can be complicated and confusing for students and parents alike. We’ve gathered unbiased and comprehensive information from multiple expert sources to create an inclusive timeline to help all aspiring college students — and their families — stay on top of the steps involved in applying to college.

Getting into college involves so much more than filling out an application. Our college prep timelines begin in 9th grade, helping parents and students understand concepts like the important distinction between classes that count toward high 500彩票 graduation but not for college admission; the importance of seeking out academic and extracurricular challenges, and the nuts and bolts of helping students learn to manage their time, participate in class discussions, and practice effective study habits. For sophomores and juniors, our timelines go deeper into helping students develop a college mentality, becoming stronger readers and writers, and helping students consider their personal learning and career goals and the different routes they might take to achieve their dreams.

For high 500彩票 seniors, there are a lot of important decisions to make. Our interactive timeline offers 12th grade college prep information, tips, and insights, month-by-month, to help parents help their high 500彩票 seniors navigate the tests, essays, and applications necessary for college admission, without missing a single step. For example, our timelines advise students and parents about how and when to prepare for college admissions tests, how to make a college list, how to figure out which colleges would be the right fit, the pros and cons of applying early, and more.

Want more? Check out our articles about college prep, being the first in the family to go to college, and saving for college.