There's a lot for your senior to do to successfully navigate the college admission process. We've been ushering students through this for many years and have put together a checklist to help them know what they should take responsibility for. Parents, you might be tempted to step in and take over but we'd strongly caution you against doing these things for your child. Your child will be on their own in college - if they aren't able to take responsibility and complete these items themselves, then they probably won't be able to handle the responsibilities that college itself will bring.
Here are some of the important steps your senior should be taking:
- Initiate communication with colleges and the college adviser. This is your child's opportunity to begin to establish their own relationship with the college admission office. Make sure the colleges get to know your student - not you!
- Create a professional email account for college communication. Their current email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) might not communicate the level of maturity or professionalism that colleges are looking for.
- Complete a self-evaluation. We have students perform a thorough self-assessment that will help them as they think through their college options and help the faculty members who will be writing their college recommendations. Here's the form we use at WCA.
- Work with the school college counselor. This is another important relationship for your student to develop. Remind them to take advantage of the resources the counselor will have.
- Research colleges online: Among the information students can access includes courses of study, GPA and SAT/ACT test score ranges for accepted students, test requirements, and the application details and deadlines.
- Register for the SAT or ACT. Check the dates and locations of the tests and make sure to register well before the deadline. See our blog post on which test to take for more details. You can find the details on the SAT and ACT websites.
- Request official SAT or ACT score reports for each college. When you register for the SAT or ACT tests you get to select some colleges that will receive the test results. If you didn't select all of the schools you are applying to, make sure to have the scores sent after you receive the results.
- Submit applications three weeks before the colleges' deadlines. Lots of things can happen (power outages, website issues) that could derail a last-minute submission of your child's application. Make sure your child submits well in advance so that they have time to recover from any issues that might spring up.
- Respond to their college of choice by May 1st. This is the deadline for accepting offers of admission. Students can respond before that, but May 1st is the final deadline.
- Withdraw active applications after committing to a college. As soon as you have made your decision and formally accepted (paid the deposit!), let the other colleges where you've been accepted know about your decision.
- Request school final recommendations and transcripts. After you complete your senior year, the college your are planning to attend needs to receive a formal copy of your final high school transcript. Your school college counselor can help you get this taken care of.