Mercy High School

Counseling Office

College Search

College Applications

College Application Calendar

Save the Date for College

College applications can seem overwhelming at first glance. What needs to be done, and when? Use this calendar to get a bird's-eye view of the college application process.

Summer before Senior Year
  • Visit colleges that interest you. Call ahead for the campus tour schedule. Schedule an on-campus interview with an admissions representative.
  • Finalize your list of colleges. Be sure your list includes "safe" schools, as well as "reach" and "realistic" schools. Request college applications and informational packets. Organize materials into separate files by college.
  • Keep a college calendar of all admission deadlines.
  • If you plan on competing in Division I or Division II college sports and want to be eligible to be recruited by colleges, you must register with the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse.
  • If you took AP® Exams in May, you will receive your AP Grade Reports in July.
  • Register early for fall SAT® tests.
September
  • Your counselor will play a big role in helping you get into college, so keep him or her informed. Meet to talk about your college plans and review your transcript.
  • Get started on your applications right away if you plan to apply through an Early Decision or Early Action program. Deadlines for early applications tend to fall in October or November.
  • Start working on your college essays. Write essays that focus on your experiences and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Update your resume—your list of accomplishments, involvements, and work experiences—with your senior year activities. Your resume will help you complete your applications and essays.
October
  • Ask your counselor, teachers, and coaches or employers for letters of recommendation. Give them plenty of time to meet your deadlines and make sure to provide them with stamped and addressed envelopes.
  • Take SAT tests. Make sure your scores are sent to each of your colleges.
  • If you are applying under an Early Decision or Early Action program, be sure to get all forms in as soon as possible. Applying online might be the right option for you.
  • Scholarships
November
  • Submit early decision and early action applications on time.
  • Work hard at completing your college essays. Proofread them rigorously for mistakes.
  • Follow up with your teachers to ensure that letters of recommendation are sent on time to meet your deadlines.
  • Mail applications as early as possible for colleges with rolling deadlines (admission decisions are made as applications are received).
  • Take SAT tests. Make sure your scores are sent to each one of your colleges.
  • Scholarships
December
  • Try to wrap up college applications before winter break. Make copies of each application before you send it.
  • Take SAT tests. Make sure your scores are sent to each one of your colleges.
  • Early Decision and Early Application responses arrive this month.
  • Scholarships
January
  • Early Decision and Early Application responses arrive this month.
  • Some colleges include your first-semester grades as part of your application folder. This is called the mid-year grade report. Have your counselor send your grades to colleges that require them.
  • Scholarships
February
  • Contact your colleges and confirm that all necessary application materials have been received.
  • Don't get senioritis! Colleges want to see strong second half grades.
  • Scholarships
March
  • Some admissions decisions arrive this month. Read everything you receive carefully, as some of it may require action on your part. Decision-Making Guide
  • Scholarships
April
  • Most admissions decisions and financial aid award letters arrive this month Read everything you receive carefully, as some of it may require action on your part.
  • Make a final decision, and mail the enrollment form and deposit check to the school you select before May 1 (the enrollment deadline for most schools).
  • Notify each of the schools to which you were accepted that you will not be attending in writing so that your spot can be freed up for another student.
  • On the waiting list? Contact the admissions office and let them know of your continued interest in the college and update them on your spring semester grades and activities.
  • Scholarships
May
  • AP Exams are administered. In 2015, AP Exams are scheduled for May 4-15. Make sure your AP Grade Report is sent to your college.
  • Study hard for final exams. Most admission offers are contingent on your final grades.
  • Thank your counselor, teachers, coaches, and anyone else who wrote you recommendations or otherwise helped with your college applications.
  • Scholarships
June
  • Have your counselor send your final transcript to your college choice.
  • If you plan on competing in Division I or Division II college sports, have your counselor send your final transcript to the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse.
  • Scholarships
Summer
  • Make travel plans. Book early for the best prices.
  • Finalize your housing plans.
  • Shop for items you will need in college.
  • Make sure to sign up for first-year orientation.
  • Plan your first-semester courses with an eye towards eventually selecting your college major.

This calendar is only a general guide and will not apply to all colleges. Consult application materials, admission offices, and institution websites for the specific requirements and deadlines for each of your colleges. For more information please visit www.collegeboard.com.

College Financial Aid

Helpful College Financial Aid and Scholarship Websites

Financial Aid Myths

Don't Believe Everything You Hear!

Literally billions of dollars in financial aid is available to those who need help paying for college. Yet lots of misinformation clouds the facts about what type of aid is available and who is eligible. Here are some myths dispelled for students confronting the process of securing financial aid.

College Is Just Too Expensive for Our Family

Despite the media hype about rising college costs, a college education is more affordable than most people think, especially when you consider college graduates earn an average of $1 million more over their careers than high-school graduates. The average yearly cost of a four-year public school in 2006-07 is just $5,836. There are some expensive schools, but high tuition is not a requirement for a good education.

There's Less Aid Available Than There Used to Be

In fact, student financial aid in 2005-06 rose to a record level of more than $134 billion. Most students receive some form of aid. Less of this aid now comes in the form of grants, however; most aid is awarded through low-interest loans or institutional and other grants. You should consider carefully the financing packages you've been offered by each college to determine which makes the most financial sense.

My Parents' Income Is Too High to Qualify for Aid

Aid is intended to make a college education available for students of families in many financial situations. College financial aid administrators often take into account not only income, but also other family members in college, home mortgage costs, and other factors. Aid is awarded to many families with incomes they thought would disqualify them.

My Parents Saved for College, So We Won't Qualify for Aid

Saving for college is always a good idea. Since most financial aid comes in the form of loans, the aid you are likely to receive will need to be repaid. Tucking away money could mean you have fewer loans to repay, and it won't mean you're not eligible for aid if you need it. A family's share of college costs is calculated based mostly on income, not assets such as savings.

I'm not a Straight A Student, So I Won't Get Aid

It's true that many scholarships reward merit, but the vast majority of federal aid is based on financial need and does not even consider grades.

If I Apply for a Loan, I Have to Take It

Families are not obligated to accept a low-interest loan if it is awarded to them. "In my opinion, everybody should apply for financial aid," says Tally Hart, director of student financial aid at Ohio State University. "Student loans are at all-time low interest rates." She recommends applying and comparing the loan awards with other debt instruments and assets to determine the best financial deal.

Working Will Hurt My Academic Success

Students who attempt to juggle full-time work and full-time studies do struggle. But research shows that students who work a moderate amount often do better academically. Securing an on-campus job related to career goals is a good way for you to help pay college costs, get experience, and create new ties with the university.

I Should Live at Home to Cut Costs

It's wise to study every avenue for reducing college costs, but living at home may not be the best way. Be sure to consider commuting and parking costs when you do this calculation. Living on campus may create more opportunities for work and other benefits.

Private Schools Are Out of Reach for My Family

Experts recommend deferring cost considerations until late in the college-selection process. Most important is finding a school that meets your academic, career, and personal needs. In fact, you might have a better chance of receiving aid from a private school. Private colleges often offer more financial aid to attract students from every income level. Higher college expenses also mean a better chance of demonstrating financial need.

Millions of Dollars in Scholarships Go Unused Every Year

Professional scholarship search services often tout this statistic. In fact, most unclaimed money is slated for a few eligible candidates, such as employees of a specific corporation or members of a certain organization. Most financial aid comes from the federal government, though it's also a good idea to research nonfederal sources of aid.

My Folks Will Have to Sell Their House to Pay for College

Home value is not considered in calculations for federal financial aid. Colleges may take home equity into account when determining how much you are expected to contribute to college costs, but income is a far greater factor in this determination. No college will expect your parents to sell their house to pay for your education.

We Can Negotiate a Better Deal

Many colleges will be sensitive to a family's specific financial situation, especially if certain nondiscretionary costs, such as unusually high medical bills, have been overlooked. But most colleges adhere to specific financial aid-award guidelines and will not adjust an award for a family that feels it got a better deal at another school. "We won't bargain, but we want to make sure we know the family's full financial picture," says Tally Hart, director of student financial aid at Ohio State University.

Please visit www.collegeboard.com for more information.
All information courtesy of www.collegeboard.com.