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Planning for College or Trade School

Planning Timeline


  • Monitor the status of your college applications to be sure all materials are sent and received on time.
  • Be sure recommendations are being mailed.
  • If your school has a parents' night to explain financial aid, be sure your parents know about it so they can attend.
  • If your early decision reply arrives and you're accepted, withdraw applications from other schools.


  • Ask your counselor to submit mid-year grades if any of the colleges to which you've applied require them.
  • Make a response and deposit in early spring if you've been accepted at a college requiring them at that time.
  • If you've been accepted by more than one college, make a choice based on a comparison of educational programs, cost of attendance, available financial aid, and the capability of each school to help you achieve your educational objectives and career goals. (If you haven't used the School Evaluation Form, complete it to see how the schools compare.)
  • If you've been accepted at one or more colleges but haven't yet heard from your first choice, contact that college or ask your counselor for help in getting a decision before any nonrefundable deposits are submitted.
  • As soon as you've decided which college's offer of admission to accept, notify that college of your decision. Advise all other colleges to which you've been accepted of your decision.


  • Follow up on your financial aid package. (For example, accept your financial aid award and provide any additional documentation requirements.)
  • If you do not qualify for need-based aid or need additional aid beyond that provided by need-based aid, consider other sources such as the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan or Federal PLUS Loans (for parents).
  • If you need a Federal Stafford or PLUS Loan, contact your school for information. If appropriate, begin the application process.
  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, if you're enrolled in Advanced Placement courses.
  • If you're on a waiting list at a college you're eager to attend, call or write to the director of admissions and ask how to strengthen your application. Recent academic or other achievements may help. If you were denied admission, see your counselor at once about alternatives. Your counselor may suggest steps you can take to alter a college's decision.


  • Respond promptly to all requests from your college.
  • Notify your high school which college you've selected so the school can submit final grades, class rank, and proof of graduation.
  • Send thank-you notes to counselors, teachers, and others who helped you.
  • Use this summer to earn money for college.