College Admission Cheat Sheet: 8 Things Seniors Need To Do Now

Last Updated Nov 4, 2010 12:32 AM EDT

If you were born in 1993, the college admission season has arrived and the clock is ticking. To help keep Open pocketwatchyour sanity during these hectic weeks, here's a college admission cheat sheet that includes eight things you should be be doing now:

1. Meet college reps.


This is the time of year when college admission officers are racking up frequent flyer miles as they meet with prospective students throughout the country. If you haven't had a chance to visit a school and sit through a college interview, now is your best bet to connect. Contact colleges on your list and inquire if their admission officers will be in your area.

2. If necessary, retake the SAT or ACT.

If you're not happy with your previous SAT or ACT test scores, sign up now for one last try. The last- ditch SAT test date for seniors is Dec. 4. Students will also be taking the SAT this Saturday. If you missed the registration deadline, you may be able to get a seat through standby registration. The last ACT test date for this year is Dec. 11.

3. Get organized.

You're about to be hit with a lot of college admission deadlines. Use a calendar to keep track of them. Write down the application deadlines for all the colleges on your list.

4. Visit colleges.

Many students wait until they've received acceptance letters from schools before they visit. I have never understood that. How would you know if you'd like to attend the school if you haven't checked it out yourself. If you can't visit a college, spend time on the school's website including relevant academic departments.

5. Write your college essay.

This is probably the most dreaded part of the college admission process. Write the college essay now rather than the night before you send in your college application. Here are college essay tips:

Writing the Perfect College Essay
6 College Essay Tips from a Top Pro

6. Ask for recommendations.

Don't wait until the Thanksgiving break to ask for recommendations. By then, your counselor and teachers could be swamped with requests for recommendation letters. Ask now. Politely set a deadline for those writing your admission recommendation. Remind the adults writing your letter a week before your deadline.

7. Whittle down your list of schools.

Applying to schools can be time consuming and expensive. I can't imagine any reason why students should apply to more than six to eight colleges.

8. Get a financial aid preread.

Don't wait until the spring to find out what kind of financial aid package a school might give you. Financial aid officers may still have time to crunch some numbers for you. If a verdict is bleak, consider looking elsewhere. Here's a recent post that I wrote about financial aid pre-reads:

What's This College Really Going to Cost
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
College admission image by Mr. Tickle. CC 2.0.