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High School Seniors’ Checklist for College Applications

students outdoors at Broome County Community College
If your high school career is coming to a conclusion, then it’s almost time to start the next chapter in your life: earning a college degree. Applying to colleges can feel overwhelming and even a bit intimidating, but if you stay organized and plan ahead, the process can seem like a breeze! We’ve put together a list of several key components to successfully prepare for the journey to your college years.

Be sure to register for your required tests, if you have not already done so. To help prepare for these exams look for test-prep courses at your high school or local community college. There are also other options that are usually more costly including Kaplan or Princeton Review.

TIP: Know your college’s testing requirements. If you are interested in attending a community college, standardized test scores are optional and not required. One of the SUNY four-year colleges, SUNY Potsdam, is test optional.

Meet with your school counselor
Although applying for colleges is an exciting time it can also be pretty stressful on top of your schoolwork. Fortunately, your school counselor is there to help you through the entire process. Be sure to schedule appointments with your counselor for insight and advice. Remember, they have helped hundreds of other students in your shoes and only want you to succeed.

Make your college list: Prospects and Tours
Your prospective college list should be based on the factors that are important to you – things like location, majors, student life, academic competitiveness and cost. Your list should be diverse so you can compare each school to see which features you can or can’t do without. After creating your list, visit these schools. Touring each campus will give you a better feel of each school’s environment and atmosphere.

TIP: Visit to search for SUNY campuses!

Send applications/transcripts before deadline
It is important to apply to college early. Some colleges have set deadlines, while others, like most SUNY colleges, review applications on a rolling admissions basis. This means that applications are reviewed as they are received and once campuses or particular academic programs are full for a certain semester, no further applications will be accepted. If you plan to apply using early action or early decision, keep in mind these programs have strict deadlines.

Planning to apply to any of the 64 SUNY schools? Our online app, applySUNY is an application portal that allows you to complete an application for admission, any required supplemental applications and your academic record all in one place. These documents are accepted by virtually all SUNY campuses. Submit your documents once, and they will be transmitted to as many SUNY campuses as you designate. The application for the fall 2014 semester will be available August 1.

College essay/college interviews
If your prospective schools require an essay or interview, early preparation is key. These may be the most time consuming of your college application process due to the amount of practice you dedicate to these tasks. Ask your guidance counselor about mock interviews and your English teacher about practice essays to ensure your readiness.

TIP: Big Future by College Board says the top two tips for writing an effective application essay are be yourself and start early.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) should be completed so you can receive help paying for your college degree. This must be filled out as soon after January 1st as possible in order to qualify for financial aid. In order to fill out your FAFSA, you will need specific documents such as income records, income tax returns, bank statements, and investment records for yourself and/or your parents.

TIP: To estimate your net cost at a SUNY campus, use our net price calculator.

TIP: For more information on how to complete your FAFSA, visit Campus Explorer for step-by-step instructions.


Once each step above is completed, you are that much closer to achieving the goal of attending your dream school! It’s time to sit back and wait for each college to come to you. Your hard work has paid off and now you will choose where the next few (and best) years of your life will be spent. Once you make your final decision, send your final transcripts and look forward to summer orientation!

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Written by Samantha Avillo

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