January College Checklist for High School Seniors

writing 1

Congrats! You are halfway through your senior year! But don’t claim “senioritis” just yet. Whether you’ve been accepted into your first-choice college or still have to apply, cover all your bases with this January college checklist for high school seniors.


While some of your classmates may be posting pictures of their early acceptance letters already, don’t fret—the majority of students admitted to college apply by regular decision. Every student’s process is unique, and you’re not required to apply early unless you know exactly which college you want to attend.
Still applying? Check your deadlines
Every school has different deadlines for applications. While January 1 is the deadline for most popular and competitive colleges, other schools have deadlines later in January, February, and March. Even if those deadlines seem far away, plan to get your applications in at least a week earlier than when they are due. You never know what hiccups you may run into when submitting online applications, paying required fees, or providing supplemental documents.
And if you haven’t already, complete any additional applications for honors, dual-degree, and ROTC programs at this time.
Already accepted?
If you’ve applied Early Decision (binding agreement to attend) and been accepted, you need to withdraw your applications to other colleges.
documentsTranscripts & Midyear Report Forms
For students who applied Early Action and/or Regular Admission, remind your high school counselor to send first semester transcripts to colleges where you applied. Your counselor will also need to send a final transcript at the end of the school year.
Some colleges also require Midyear Report forms. As high school counselors do not receive invitations to submit these forms from The Common App site, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that all required documents are submitted.

Financial Aid

First and foremost, check the financial aid websites of each of your prospective colleges for deadlines and details.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is a required form for every student applying for need-based federal financial aid. It’s a necessary component of the college selection process, and the sooner you complete your FAFSA, the sooner you will know your financial aid options.
You can start applying for FAFSA in January, which is highly recommended. Check the deadlines for each college you’ve applied to so you’re on track to receive financial aid.
Fill out and submit the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, which is provided by the College Board. Like the Common App, by filling out one form, you can apply for nonfederal financial aid from almost 300 colleges and scholarship programs.
January is also a great time to score some scholarships for college. Putting in the work to get a couple of scholarships of any amount can go a long way in the future.


man-in-suitIf a college offers an admissions interview as an option, accept the interview. Interviews help colleges see who you are beyond your academics. Take some time in January to figure out which colleges offer interviews and to prepare for them.


If you haven’t visited any of the colleges you’ve applied to or are stuck between two schools, a visit is the best way to determine which school is for you. Getting on campus can help you understand the atmosphere of a school, and you’ll often know quickly whether or not you will feel at home.
Seniors, you are in the home stretch! I wish you all the best in the New Year. Press on and finish strong!
Download a free Christian college guide for students


More Posts

coffee latte web 1000

Cairn’s Favorite Coffeehouses

I feel like every college student has to go to a coffee shop to do homework at some point in their college career. Maybe it’s just a Cairn culture thing,


5 Reasons to Schedule a Personal Visit

As any high school senior knows, there’s ridiculous pressure for students to discover and commit to the best college. With so many options to evaluate and limited time, it’s tempting to forego