Application Timeline - 12 to 14 Months Before
Choose the schools to which you will apply
By now, you should have your definitive list of the schools to which you would like to apply. If you are using the USA School Search, you can save these schools in your account and correspond directly with them. Your list should contain the following:
- 1 or 2 institutions that you would like to attend, but that may not accept you
- 2 institutions where you feel you have a decent chance of being accepted
- 1 or 2 institutions where you are quite certain that you will gain admission
Prepare a folder for each of the schools you select in which you will keep copies of all correspondence, application materials and other information.
Stay on track
Colleges are going to be paying special attention to what you’ve done with your senior year, so make sure you work hard and keep your grades up. Meet with your counselor to try to prepare a challenging schedule for your final year of high school, rather than loading up on easy electives. It is also a good idea to maintain a commitment to any extracurricular activities that you are a part of. Colleges like to see that you are involved in extracurricular activities, but they like to see that you can maintain an interest in and commitment to just a few activities, rather than bouncing from club to club every semester.
Obtain all necessary information and forms for each school
Contact each school to obtain information and an application packet – you can do this through the USA School Search. Many colleges and universities in the U.S. (but certainly not all) have application materials on their web sites. Be aware that some web sites carry only applications for institutions that subscribe to that site. Determine what you will need to apply to each college and/or university on your list of potential programs, as requirements are different at every school. Note carefully the deadlines on each application.
Graduate students should send a letter to the director of graduate admissions with a copy to the chairman of the department to which you seek admission.
Make sure you know your deadlines! You’re going to be filling out a lot of forms, so it’s important to know what is due when. You might want to make a calendar showing the application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
Now is also the time to inform institutions if you will need financial aid, as you will need additional forms.
Take required entrance exams
You should take the necessary entrance exams at this time. Many graduate and undergraduates will need to prove their English skills by taking the TOEFL, IELTS or other accepted English as a Second Language test; undergraduates will need to take the SAT or ACT exam; and graduate students may be required to take the GRE or GMAT exam. Please visit our Standardized Tests section for comprehensive information about these tests, and make sure you know what is required from the schools on your list.
Be sure that you have requested—either by mail or online—that your test scores be sent to the colleges to which you plan on applying.
Note: Make sure you know your deadlines! You’re going to be filling out a lot of forms, so it’s important to know what is due when. You might want to make a calendar showing the application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
For your next steps, visit our 10-12 Months Before application timeline.