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College Planning Checklist

Applying to college is exciting, if a little nerve-wracking. You can help your prospective freshman organize the school search with this checklist — covering issues like the securing of recommendations, financial aid, campus visits, and what to do with all of the attendant paperwork and documentation.

College Considerations

Checkmark-Iconlocation — near home, long-distance

Xmark-Iconcost (both in-state and out-of state, classes, fees, housing)

Checkmark-Iconavailable majors and areas of specialization

Xmark-Icondistinctions and awards

Checkmark-Iconsize and makeup of student body

Xmark-Iconentrance requirements

Checkmark-Iconacademic record of incoming freshmen and graduates

Xmark-Iconextra-curricular and campus activities

Checkmark-Iconfinancial aid options and scholarships

Financial Aid Tips

Xmark-Iconinitially, don’t rule schools out because of cost

Checkmark-Iconmore expensive schools often give more financial aid

Xmark-Iconresearch school-based scholarships and grants

Checkmark-Iconresearch options based on gender, major, ethnicity, etc.

Xmark-Iconresearch scholarships, grants, and work study

Checkmark-Iconbegin applying for scholarships as you send in admissions

Xmark-Iconthe FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) determines eligibility

Checkmark-Iconfile the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan 1 of your senior year

Xmark-Icon4-6 weeks after submitting, you will receive Student Aid Report

Checkmark-IconSAR summarizes your info and Expected Family Contribution

Xmark-Iconif you are asked for, you will need to submit W-2’s and 1099’s

Checkmark-Iconapply for student loans if still need assistance

Xmark-Iconmay receive your first bill for tuition before school starts

Checkmark-Iconask about payment plans for first payment, rather than lump sum

Xmark-Iconyou will need to reapply for financial aid each year

Junior Year Of High School

Checkmark-Icontalk to your guidance counselor about entrance requirements

Xmark-Iconreview your current studies and plan for appropriate senior classes

Checkmark-Iconbegin thinking about what majors and careers interest you

Xmark-Icondecide on a list of schools that meet your personal criteria

Checkmark-Iconrequest detailed information and applications for each school

Xmark-Iconset up a “college information” file for each school

Checkmark-Iconinclude checklists for each school’s application requirements

Xmark-Iconmake copies of applications and file before submitting

Checkmark-Iconkeep copies of all correspondence in college file

Xmark-Iconschedule appointments for open houses and visits with college reps

Checkmark-Iconpick your first date to take the SAT and ACT — April, May, or June

Xmark-Iconplan appointments to visit your top two or three college campuses

Checkmark-Iconstart working out a realistic college budget

Senior Year Of High School

Xmark-Iconexamine your funding sources and start researching financial aid

Checkmark-Iconbegin working on your essay

Xmark-Iconput together your personal and academic resume

Checkmark-Iconrequest transcripts from guidance office

Xmark-Iconbegin applying the day after Labor Day

Checkmark-Icondevelop a time table of admissions deadlines

Xmark-Iconobtain scholarship and financial aid information — including FAFSA

Checkmark-Iconsend out financial aid applications right after first of year

Xmark-Iconmail off FAFSA form by March 1

Checkmark-Iconschedule college and scholarship interviews as required

Xmark-Iconadd interview dates to your time table

Checkmark-Iconmake your final selection and accept college and financial aid offer

Xmark-Iconinform all colleges of your decision

Checkmark-Icontalk to representative of chosen college about housing and classes

Vital College-Planning Paperwork

Xmark-Iconletters of reference

Checkmark-Iconcopies of each application

Xmark-Iconfinancial aid applications

Checkmark-Iconfinancial aid supporting documentation

Xmark-Iconletters of acceptance or rejection

Checkmark-Iconstandardized test scores

Xmark-Iconschool transcripts

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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