Senior year is a can be a very stressful time in the lives of students and their families—preparing the senior yearbook ad, preparing for the prom, taking the SAT and/or ACT (again!), researching colleges, visiting colleges and perusing viewbooks, brochures, and costs, not to mention preparing college application packages, writing scholarship essays, staying on top of your grades, participating in clubs and activities, and working as hard as you can to make yourself a competitive candidate for admissions into your top colleges.

Following are some quick points of things that you should keep in mind as you begin your senior year of high school.


Be sure to take the SAT or ACT in time for colleges to receive your scores before their application deadlines, because many colleges will not accept scores received after the deadline. Scores must be sent to the colleges directly from the SAT (CollegeBoard) or the ACT. Scores are sent to as many as four colleges at no charge. There is an additional fee to send scores to more colleges.

Application Fee Waivers

There are several ways to receive an application fee waiver:

  • Students on free or reduced lunch may request SAT and ACT fee waivers from their counselor and request college application fee waivers from the colleges that they are interested in applying to
  • College representatives will often give application fee waivers to prospective students at college fairs and when visiting their local high schools
  • Colleges that invite students to apply, to attend diversity weekends, or to admissions presentations will often offer application fee waivers to prospective students
  • Nonprofit organizations that assist students with applying to college like Quest Bridge ( arrange application fee waivers with a wide range of colleges

Submitting your application

Many colleges accept, if not prefer, applications submitted through the common application program ( Other colleges prefer that applications be submitted online through their website.

Official School Transcripts

Know the cost and the process to request an official copy of your high school transcript at your high school.

Teacher and Counselor Evaluations/Recommendations

Talk to your teachers and counselors so that you know how much in advance they will need to receive your request for them to write an evaluation/recommendation


Scholarship application deadlines occur throughout your senior year, with many deadlines occurring in October, November, and December.

Colleges will have their own deadlines, with many occurring as early as September and October for institutional scholarships and Honors scholarships.


Colleges may not award you federal student aid, and in many cases, any financial aid whatsoever before you have fully completed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You may complete your application online at (which is free) NOT (which will cost you money!).


If you do not enter your senior year with a list of colleges that you have thoroughly researched, then you are far behind! Get your research done.

Click here to download a college research form