The Ultimate College Application Timeline

Application Strategies
May 4, 2020
When High School Seniors Begin The Process Of Filling Out College Applications, Staying On Track Is Crucial For Their Success...

With distractions like extracurriculars, sporting activities, and simply enjoying senior year, it’s easy for students to overlook important aspects of their college applications.

More and more high school seniors are finding it extremely helpful to adhere to a college application timeline. These timelines highlight specific tasks you need to complete each month leading up to your application deadlines. In one fell swoop, a timeline spaces out your tasks so you don’t get overwhelmed, and helps you focus on one thing at a time; while also making sure you don’t miss any important deadlines! If you’re getting ready to start filling out college applications, this could be the ideal tool for you!

What You’ll Find In This Article:

Why Having A Plan Makes College Applications Easier

Imagine for a second what it would be like to work on your college applications without a plan.

You would probably just start plugging in random responses without even thinking twice about deadlines, requirements, or what the college is looking for in their applicants. The result would be close to disastrous, depending on how many components you lose track of. Because you didn’t have a clear plan outlining everything you need to focus on as you go through your applications, you would easily forget about valuable supplemental materials like recommendation letters, test scores, and required essays.

If you’re still not convinced that a timeline will be helpful, remember that college applications aren’t the kind of documents that you can complete in one sitting. There are many working parts involved in the process that often involve long waiting periods. The only way for you to be sure that you’re on top of things is to have a plan and stick to it.

Fortunately, having a clear plan from start to finish will greatly reduce your stress and your chances of overlooking important components of the application.

A timeline, or checklist, outlining every portion of your application is highly valuable because it instantly divides your workload into easy-to-tackle bits. The key to completing a long-term project like a college application is to break up the process into pieces, and complete those tasks one at a time. A checklist does this work for you; all you have to do is follow it! Whether or not you use one could make or break your success applying to college.

Putting WeAdmit's College Application Checklist To Use

Luckily, WeAdmit has done the research and compiled a universal college application checklist that you can use as you begin filling out your applications. Not only that, but there are multiple ways you can use this valuable tool.

For starters, you can simply print out this article and tape it on your wall or in your school planner. You can also copy down all the information in a way that’s easy for you to reference.

Better yet, go through your personal calendar and write down the specific deadlines you need to remember.

The more prepared you are, the less you’ll be surprised by additional requirements or sudden deadlines. Your goal with this checklist shouldn’t be to memorize everything that’s expected of you; that will only leave you overwhelmed and unmotivated. The key is writing down the major milestones of applying for college so that when the time comes to complete that task, you won’t overlook it.

The Ultimate College Application Timeline For Seniors

WeAdmit’s ultimate college application timeline is specifically designed for rising high school seniors. While juniors can use this resource as well, seniors can begin putting each of these tasks into action as early as today.


The first thing you should do before you start filling out your college applications is develop an idea of how you plan to pay for college. This decision will directly influence the colleges you choose, the priority deadline you’ll submit your application under, and the kind of financial aid you will apply for.

Research the different forms of financial aid that are available to you, and decide which ones you’ll be eligible for. This part of your July tasks will include filling out the FAFSA which requires specific information like your family’s income. Then, research all the scholarships that you’re eligible for through a search engine like Unigo and Scholarships.

The more you understand how financial aid and scholarships operate, the more you’ll discover resources that meet your eligibility and can help you affordably obtain your degree.

Your tasks for July are:

  • Research your financial aid options.
  • Prepare to apply for scholarships in September.


There’s a strong guarantee that you’ll be using the Common App to fill out each of your applications. Sometimes, colleges give students the option to use other application platforms like Coalition for College or the Universal College Application, but Common App is the most widely recognized application in the U.S.

The Common App becomes available for each applicant on August 1st of each year, and this is the perfect opportunity to finalize your list of colleges. Use WeAdmit’s suggested method of compiling a reach, safety, and target list and keep your financial aid needs in mind.

Your August tasks are:


You made it to September! At this point, you’ve been working on your college applications for two months, but it doesn’t feel like it because you were smart and divided your tasks into bite-sized pieces.

This month, you’ll want to pay special attention to your essays. Begin by writing practice essays using essay prompts from the Common App. These prompts are available year-round, so start early and aim to create your best essay.

During your breaks from writing, prepare to send your standardized test scores to any colleges you may be applying to under early action or early decision. Do some research on the benefits of early action and early decision while you’re at it; you may find that it’s the best way for you to present yourself to colleges in a positive light.

Your September tasks are:

  • Write practice essays.
  • Prepare to send SAT and ACT scores if you’re applying to a college under an early deadline.


After you send off your test scores and finish refining your essay writing skills, you’ll want to start reaching out to your teachers and counselors to obtain some solid letters of recommendation. A glowing letter of recommendation can make or break your application; the educators and mentors that have helped you grow over the past four years can vouch for your valuable traits like work ethic, leadership, and creativity.

October is a great time to make the final touches on any essays for early priority deadlines and  to discuss remaining tasks with your counselor as well. Most early action or early decision applications are due November 1st, so this will be your last chance to get everything ready.

Your October tasks are:

  • Gather your recommendation letters.
  • Finish essays for early priority deadlines.
  • Meet with your counselor to discuss your application plans.


November is the month of early deadlines and looking ahead to  regular decision deadlines as well.

If you’re applying under early action or early decision, be prepared to send all your application material in the first two weeks of November. For students who are applying to colleges under the regular deadline of January 1st, now would be a great time to get started on the bulk of your applications.

Your November tasks are::

  • Be prepared to submit final application materials in the first two weeks on November for early action and early decision deadlines.
  • Get started on applications that you plan on submitting under the regular decision deadline on January 1st.


In December, you’re close to being done with your college applications! With the end of November and December comes holidays, parties, and a much-needed winter break. However, if you still have college applications to submit before January 1st, you’ll need to push through the distractions and finish strong!

This is a great time to finalize your essays, make final requests for letters of recommendation, and fill out any remaining holes in your application. Also, early deadline decisions are usually released around December 1st, so keep your eye out for emails or letters.

Your December tasks are:


You made it! January is usually the last month that high school seniors need to focus on their college applications. While decisions aren’t usually released until mid-March, you can relax and enjoy the rest of your senior year as soon as you finish submitting your applications.

Your January tasks are:

  • Look for deadlines in January, usually January 1st or 15th.
  • Wait for decisions to be released, usually in mid-March.
  • Enjoy your senior year!

The Value Of A Plan

Filling out college applications is a long process, something that easily spans multiple months. The best way to stay focused and motivated is to keep track of specific tasks and deadlines. WeAdmit’s college application timeline and checklist is a valuable tool for high school seniors; this will separate your tasks so you can proceed with the college application process focused and determined.

Of course, don’t forget about WeAdmit’s professional counselors, either! With your own personal team of counselors available 24/7, you’ll have experts that are on your side and ready to help you gain admission to the college of your dreams.

Let Our Timeline Help You Stay On Top Of Your College Application Checklist!



Need more Information?

Gain all the information you need by getting in touch with our admissions team or booking a free 30-minute counseling session.