When Should I Apply For College?

Different colleges have different application deadlines. Doing you research and applying early ensures you don’t miss important deadlines, like those for financial aid.

Applying for college can be very intimidating, and many prospective students often ask: “When should I apply for college?” The answer varies from person to person, but applying to college does take some preparation.

Attending College Right After High School

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about two-thirds of high school graduates enroll in a degree-granting two- or four-year college immediately after finishing high school.

If you know you want to go to college immediately after graduation, you should start preparing as soon as the summer before your senior year. This may seem early to you, but there are good reasons for this according to the College Board, a not-for-profit association whose stated mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity.

Regardless, the College Board recommends that you complete your college applications in December of your senior year in high school if you want to attend college immediately after graduation.

Do Your Research

Colleges require different things in their application packets. Starting to research potential schools early–a few months before applications are due–allows you time to schedule SAT tests, line up letters of recommendation, or complete pre-requisites.

Another important consideration is financial aid. The Department of Education encourages students to apply for their Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as possible after the start of the new year. States may also have financial aid available. Each state has their own deadline, usually in the late winter or early spring.

Deadlines vary from institution to institution, so once you have narrowed down your choices, contact each school to find out when applications are due. Some community colleges may accept applications even after the semester has started.

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