College Application Timeline for Seniors

As soon as your child’s senior year begins, college admission stress skyrockets.

In addition to keeping up with senior year homework, tests, and extra-curricular activities, the time has now come when your child has to communicate to college admissions officers who she is and how she stands out. And when we say stand out, we mean stand out.

Top SAT/ACT scores and an excellent GPA and are no longer enough to get your child into college. In fact, 77% – 90% of all college applications are rejected, and those rejections include many applicants with perfect SAT/ACT scores and 4.0 GPAs or better.

Writing outstanding admissions essays and creating a compelling activities list takes time, but it’s worth the effort to do so. Getting into a top-ranked college can lead to a stronger professional network, higher earnings, and lifelong pride. Attending a college that you feel ambivalent about or simply don’t like may lead to a lot of “What if-ing.”

So, if you haven’t yet started your college application, we encourage you to do so now.


Ideally, by mid to late September, your child should complete the following:

– Finalize the Common Application/Coalition Application Essay (Recommended reading: Two Key Qualities College Admissions Officers Want to See in Your Common App Essay and How to Write Your College Application Essay: Ten Ways to Success).

– Finalize the college list (Recommended reading: How to Create the Perfect College List).

– Request that all standardized test scores (SAT/ACT and AP) be sent to all the colleges on the list (Recommended reading: How to Get 800 on the SAT Reading).

– Decide whether to apply to colleges Early Action or Early Decision (Recommended reading: Early Action/Early Decision Admission Rates Drop at All Ivies).

– Begin working on supplemental essays, prioritizing the supplemental essays for Early
Decision colleges (Recommended reading: Three Tips for Writing Successful College Application Supplemental Essays  and How to Write Outstanding Supplemental College Application Essays ).

– Rewrite your extra-curricular list so that your activities emphasize leadership and initiative(Recommended Reading: Extra-Curricular Lists: Why Being Well-Rounded No Longer Works  and How Extra-Curriculars Can Boost or Hurt Your Chances of College Admission).

– Remind those writing letters of recommendation that you need the letters of recommendation ASAP.


If your child hasn’t yet started the college application process, rest assured that there’s still time for your child to complete an outstanding application, even for Early Decision/Early Action colleges. However, you might also want to give your child a gentle nudge. 😊 Also, keep in mind that we are always here to help you, 7 days a week and at night.

Need help getting your college application essays written on time?
Call me! I look forward to working with you soon!

Dr. Osborn works with students from all over the world to help them reach their independent, college, and graduate school goals. Through a personal, one-on-one approach, Dr. Osborn creates an individualized plan for each student based on the student’s strengths, passions, and career aspirations. Her holistic approach helps students perform well in school and secure admission to top colleges.  

About The Author

Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.