Preparing for college takes time. But when you break down the process into monthly steps, it becomes much more manageable. Use the checklists below to stay organized on your path to college success.

Summer Before Senior Year

Prepare Your College and Career Plans

  • Identify four colleges or trade schools that you might want to attend. You can choose from hundreds of schools or colleges, which makes it important to answer questions about size, type, location and cost to find your best fit. To begin:
  • As you explore college options, consider your preferences. Your college list should include at least:
    • One college you are confident you can get into (Safety)
    • Two colleges that you are pretty sure you can get into (Good Fit)
    • One college that you have a chance of getting into, but it’s a stretch (Reach)
  • If you apply to four, you have a much better chance of being admitted. As you research each school, also take note of the application deadlines.
  • Tour colleges in person or virtually to see what it’s like to be on campus. Check online to see when tours and information sessions are offered and plan to participate in both when you visit. You can look for student reviews online at
  • View the Campus Visits – What to Ask worksheet
  • Create a calendar of deadlines so that you know when the applications are due. List all application deadlines, including testing and financial aid requirements, for each program that interests you. Use a checklist to stay organized.
  • Compile a list of all of the documents you will need. Our College Application Planner worksheet will help you get organized. 
  • Identify the teachers, coaches and mentors who will write recommendation letters. Talk to them now, then remind them when school starts in the fall. Ask them early so they have enough time. Make sure they know you well and can speak about your strengths. Provide your resume to help them with specifics.
  • Ask your school counselor about fee waivers. Use fee waivers for the SAT, SAT subject test, ACT and college applications. Many Delaware colleges waive the application fee during College Application Month.
  • Make a list of all your accomplishments, activities in which you excelled and awards you received since ninth grade. You will use these in your application and essay.

Connect with alumni from your high school who may be home on break or reach out to college students on social media. Ask questions about their college experience and what they wish they knew before they arrived.

Senior Year Planner

September is the time to make decisions about life after graduation. Whether you’re interested in college, an apprenticeship, a certificate program or the military, you will need to work now toward your goal.

October may be one of the busiest months in your college preparation.

November is when you need to finalize which colleges and/or programs you will apply to. Choose colleges and/or programs that will challenge you but also help you succeed.

Enjoy your winter break, but remember to stay on track. Finish lingering applications, continue to apply for scholarships, submit the FAFSA, and start thinking about the summer.

February is a month of uncertainty as you wait for acceptance letters and financial aid offers. Keep on track and continue working on your to-do list.

March is when you need to compile all your income sources so you have a clearer picture of how you will pay for your education after high school.

In April, you should decide what school or program to attend. Look beyond the price tag. Consider intangible factors, such as the success of graduates of your program of study.

May is when colleges send information that you need to fill out by certain deadlines. Stay on top of all correspondence and respond as quickly as possible.

Now that you have been accepted, June and July are good months to prepare for that first day on your college campus. Give yourself plenty of time to complete each of these steps. If you hit a roadblock or need help over the summer, ask your parents, family, friends, high school counselors, teachers, or university admissions/financial aid officers for help. Be sure to keep track of deadlines and see the sample calendar.

Prepare to start your life as a college student.

Senior Toolkit

This toolkit aims to guide you through the college application and selection process. The checklists and worksheet links below will give you things to consider when choosing your major and potential colleges, items you need to complete the application, and charts and timelines. Fill out the pages as you work through the school year.