Whether you’re a junior or senior in high school, you should be taking some important steps in March to help move your college search forward. We’ve provided a brief overview of what 11th and 12th graders typically do this month, as well as separate checklists to ensure you or your child is on the right track.
March checklist for high school seniors
If you’re a senior, you’re probably done with most of the heavy lifting. You submitted applications a few months ago and are now waiting to hear back from the schools you’ve applied to. Compared to the comprehensive applications you filled out and standardized tests you took last year, not much that happens this month will have a huge influence on your college journey.
- Continue narrowing your list. If you don’t already have a small list of finalists, now is the time to narrow down your list. You’ll be hearing back from admissions departments within the next few weeks, and most expect to receive an answer from you by late April or early May.
- Update FAFSA information. Once you are accepted into school, you’ll need to make arrangements to pay tuition. If you are applying for student aid, make sure you complete or update your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Stay optimistic. Now is the time when you might start receiving acceptance and rejection letters. Don’t be dismayed by an early rejection or two, especially if you’ve applied to several schools. A positive attitude will help you get through this uncertain time.
- Start researching loans. If you plan on borrowing money to pay for school, now is the time to begin or continue researching what’s available. Consider a variety of different lenders, and pay close attention to their terms and interest rates.
March checklist for high school juniors
This is a big month—as your college search picks up speed, you’re likely spending more and more time on researching schools. If you don’t have an important standardized test to take this month, you’re either taking one soon or just got done with one.
- Pare down your list of colleges. At this stage, you might have a preliminary list of schools that you haven’t done much with. Applications are due at the end of the year: now is the time to start editing your list down to decide which colleges you are serious about.
- Research scholarships. If you haven’t already started your search for scholarships, get a head start by looking around for them now. Talk to your teachers and guidance counselors, and remember to look online as well.
- Take the SAT/ACT. It might be your first time registering for the test, or you might have taken it in the fall and want to improve your score. Whatever the case, it’s important to study and prepare as much as possible. These tests will make a big impact on your college search. Consider enrolling in a prep program if you haven’t already.
- Schedule appointments to visit colleges. This is the time when most prospective students start scheduling visits to campuses in their area. If you haven’t visited any colleges yet, start with the ones closest to home and extend your search outward.
College application deadlines and the many other components of your college search can seem overwhelming. By breaking down the search into several parts, staying organized with checklists, and maintaining a good attitude, you can make the process go much more smoothly.
For more help on making a college decision, check out our Ultimate College Decision Timeline guide: