15 College Application Dates That You Need to Know


15 College Application Dates That You Need to Know

Senior year is finally approaching! There are so many fun things that your last year of high school can bring – whether it is the chance to enroll in an elective you’ve been waiting three years to take, the opportunity to be a leader at school, or the possibility of finally heading off campus for lunch. While the prospect of graduation can seem exciting, this is also the time to be wary of college application dates looming.

One way to reduce stress is to stay aware of all the upcoming college application dates that apply to you. From standardized test schedules to application deadlines, there are a lot of dates to keep track of.

Since there are a lot of college application dates, it can be hard to stay on top of them. Make sure to note or schedule these on your calendar. Set reminders and give yourself your own deadlines so that you do not forget them. Here is a list of helpful college application dates to keep in mind as prepare!

July 1:  It might seem early, but the 2020-2021 ApplyTexas application opens at the start of July. If you want to apply to schools in Texas, go ahead and create an account. Start filling out your biographical information, educational background, and high school information.

August 1: The 2020-21 Common Application, University of California Application, and Coalition Application open in the summer as well! Create an account and start entering the biographical, family, and high school information for these application systems as well. This process takes longer than you think, so get going early!

Fill out this section very carefully -- you don’t want to be that applicant that mixes up your first name and last name, or your home address and your school address. All of this information can help provide admissions officers with more context about you and your background, so do not forget to verify and proofread. You can also add schools to your Common App and check out if the ones you are interested in applying to require supplemental essays to make that part of your application plans.

October 1: October 1st is the first day that you can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. You will need to complete the FAFSA forms to apply for most financial aid, including federal and state grants, work-study, and loans. It is a good idea to file your FAFSA early since colleges, states, and other programs often have earlier deadlines than the federal ones. If your parent or guardian is the one paying for college, you would need their information. Things you need when filling out the FAFSA include:

  • Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Number if you’re not a US citizen
  • Your federal tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money that you’ve earned
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • Federal Student Aid ID to sign in

On October 1st, you can also file the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. The CSS is used by about 250 colleges and programs to determine whether you qualify for institutional grants and scholarships. While the FAFSA is used for federal grants, the CSS Profile is used by certain schools to determine your eligibility for grants and scholarships.

October 3: Standardized tests are a crucial part of college application dates. If you would like to retake your SAT in the fall and then submit your scores to a school for Early Action or Early Decision, then taking the SAT in October is your last chance. Some schools might accept scores from the November 2nd SAT for their early applications, but not all of them will, especially since colleges process early applications within a compressed time frame. Make sure you read the testing policies for your schools of choice. Remember that you will need to register for the October 3rd test date by September 3rd!

October 24: In the fall, the ACT is offered on September 12th and October 24th. The October 26th ACT is the last ACT exam that you can take before early application deadlines. You will need to register for the test by September 18th. One issue with taking the ACT in October is that you will not be able to see your scores before you send them to schools for Early Decision or Early Action, since deadlines for most schools are on November 1st.

November 1 and November 15: Most Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are in the beginning of November. In order to apply early, you must submit all of your application materials, including essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and test scores by the deadline. Be ready to take the plunge on November 1st!

Do not get complacent once you have submitted your Early Decision application, as there is a lot more to be done. The timeframe between Early Decision results and Regular Decision college application dates is very short, so get started on your remaining supplements.

November 30: There are a few schools that have Regular Decision deadlines that are earlier than most other colleges. Applications to the University of California school system are due on November 30th and applications to the Apply Texas schools are due on December 1st. Also beware that these colleges do not use the Common App! Be sure to check all of the college application dates and deadlines for the schools on your list.

December 5: This is the last SAT test date before most Regular Decision deadlines. Ideally, you should plan on finishing your standardized testing by October or November of your senior year. But if you do want to retake the SAT one last time in December, you will need to register for the test by November 5th.

Remember that admissions officers can view how many times you have taken the SAT. If you get a high score after taking it four or five times, it does not reflect very well on your college applications. Think strategically about whether or not this last sitting is worth it!

December 12: This is the last time to take the ACT before Regular Decision deadlines. Again, waiting until December to finalize and send in test scores is a little risky, so if you can, try to take the ACT earlier in the fall. The deadline for registering for the December ACT is November 6th.

December 15: If you’ve applied Early Decision to a school, you will hear back sometime around this date. If you’ve been accepted, congratulations! Remember that if you’ve applied Early Decision and your acceptance is binding, so be sure to accept the offer and submit your deposit soon. If you’ve been deferred, don’t give up! Take the necessary next steps, and keep working on your Regular Decision applications as well.

January 1: Most Regular Decision and Early Decision II deadlines fall between January 1st and January 15th. All of your application materials should be submitted to the schools on your list! Check and double check that you have everything. Proofread your essays, and get a second set of eyes to read through them as well. Make sure your teachers and guidance counselor have submitted their recommendation letters. Verify that your activities and courses are up to date, and that you have completed all of the questions and essays required for each of your colleges.

And with that, you’re done with your college application submissions! Congratulations. Now, the waiting game begins.

February 15 - If you’ve applied ED II to a school, you should hear back sometime between early and mid-February. Hearing back from your top choice school early can take the pressure off from the rest of your applications.

April 1: After years of hard work, it’s the moment of truth! Most schools release Regular Decision results by this date. If you’ve been waitlisted at a school you really want to go attend, make sure to write a letter of continued interest and consider sending additional letters of recommendation.

May 1: This is the last date you have to commit to a school. If you’ve been pondering over multiple schools, now is the time to make a choice. Pay your deposit and congratulations! You’re all set for college in the fall!

Senior year of high school flies by. Alongside classes, midterms and extracurriculars, you have the additional task of ensuring your college applications are good to go. While college application dates and deadlines can be emotionally taxing, knowing which dates are upcoming can help you go a long way to ease the stress so that you can still enjoy your senior year!

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