Three Things High School Seniors Should Do Now

Are you getting ready to start your last year of school? For many high school seniors, the new school year also marks the official start of the college application process. While students should begin planning and researching early, there are many seniors who are just now diving in. Good news! It’s OK!

With early application deadlines just around the corner (November 1 and 15), Dr. Katherine Cohen, founder of IvyWise ( and LinkedIn Higher Ed Expert, urges late-starting seniors to do these three things now:

Narrow Down Your College List

Students should end up with a list of 12 to 15 good-fit schools. The schools should be balanced between reach, target and likely, but all should be academic, social and financial fits. 

A great place to start your research is LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides aspiring students and young professionals the opportunity to make informed decisions on which universities and majors will help them achieve personal and professional successes.

LinkedIn University pages allows students to learn what’s happening on campus, ask questions of faculty, staff, students and alumni, check out notable alumni and explore the professional paths of graduates.

Create a College Application Checklist

Senior year of high school can be overwhelming for many students.  It’s often the most rigorous year academically. Also, the college application process has gotten a lot more complex since mom and dad applied. It’s important to create a college application checklist and calendar with key dates now so that you don’t miss any important deadlines.  Be sure to include due dates for early and regular applications at each school to which you’re applying, standardized test dates — and registration deadline dates — as well as deadlines to apply for scholarships and financial aid. Don’t lose sight of deadlines for school projects, mid-terms and final exams. Make sure to get everything on you calendar and check it daily.

Approach Teachers for Letters of Recommendation

Most selective colleges and universities require one to three recommendation letters with a student’s application, usually from a guidance counselor and at least one teacher. If you haven’t done so already, identify two 11th grade teachers who know you well — not just the ones who gave you the easy “A” — and ask them to write a letter of recommendation immediately. 

Teachers receive many letter requests. Please keep in mind: they are not required to write these letters.  Often, teachers will limit the number of letters they write, so students need to ask early.  Be sure to provide a copy of your resume, examples of your completed assignments and information about the colleges to which you are applying, so they can personalize your letter. Also, don’t forget to write your own letter to thank your teachers for their time!

A solid organizational plan before that first morning of your last year of high school will serve you well! Prepare now!

Updated July 29, 2019

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