Senior checklist: what should I be doing right now?

Deadlines, tests, applications — but where do I even start? Is it too late?

Nia Rolle, Opinions Writer

Checklist for Seniors: nod at the past, smile at the future.

We are almost there. Graduation is quickly approaching. Some seniors have gotten accepted into their dream colleges while others are just getting the ball rolling and applying to schools now. Still others might be in a completely different boat; they are still trying to figure out exactly what they should be doing right now in their senior year, and that is completely okay. This is why I’m writing this for you. 

Here are some tips to help guide you through the process of being a senior and what steps you should be taking if you choose to attend college right after high school or maybe enter the workforce. Overall, it is all up to you! College is not for everyone, and some people will excel at a solid two or four-year institution. Everyone has their own path and hopefully each one of you seniors finds the right path that works best for you. 

1. Get the help and resources you need to start the college journey. Talking to your guidance counselor is the first step into starting the college process and finding out exactly what you need to do and how to efficiently get your applications and scholarships done. Your guidance counselor will have all the information you need but be consistent, so emailing and going into their office maybe once a week or every other week will be beneficial to you and the quicker you get applications and scholarships done, the quicker you can enjoy the rest of your senior year, stress-free.

2. Review college application requirements — including costs — and scholarships. Looking at what colleges you may be interested in attending is vital in completing the application process. College applications can be found on the Common App, Common Black College Application as well as the Coalition App. Some colleges offer easy and stress-free applications right on their websites. There are also applications to fill out on college websites that are easy to access. Scholarships are the stepping stone to financially be prepared for college. There are plenty of scholarships out there for every senior that goes looking for them. There are no-essay scholarships, there are essay scholarships and creative video scholarships. There is something for everyone to earn some extra money to start funding for college because we all know college can get expensive and we all need a helping hand.

3. Complete the FAFSA application for the 2022-2023 school year for seniors entering college after high school. Applying for financial aid is the most important part of this college process. The FAFSA can help you in many ways financially for college whether you are financially capable or not. It still helps you out a lot so you won’t have to pay back so much student debt in the future. So make sure you have filled out your FAFSA form or about to fill it out because it is truly an integral part of this process. It should if anything be the first thing you complete before college applications or looking for scholarships.

4. Keep track of DEADLINES! Deadlines are super important, especially in your senior year. Knowing deadlines for college applications, scholarship due dates, and essay deadlines and more will definitely help you throughout this college journey. It is very simple to make a Google Spreadsheet and make a list of all your college applications you plan on applying to and scholarships you want to apply for. So that way everything is in one place and easily accessible. Trust me there is nothing more important than being prepared for college and keeping track of deadlines.

Creating a calendar for this will help organize your deadlines so you know what is coming up soon and what you need to start planning for. Keeping a planner specifically related to college matters will help you. Amazon has plenty of college planning notebooks and such that will be great to keep track of everything you need.

5. Take the SAT or ACT. Despite colleges being test-optional for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, it is strongly recommended and encouraged that you take either test and see how it is, and get a feel for it. However, it is not required and will not affect your application process if you don’t take it or can’t get to testing. It can however give your application the boost it needs beyond GPA, grades, and activities.

6. Get involved in as many activities as possible. College applications are the place where you are taking note of all the activities you are a part of in high school. As such, you can be a part of the Black Student Union, or the Holly Spirit, and maybe run track and field or play football and those activities will make college admissions counselors look at your specific application and strongly consider your acceptance. College admissions counselors want to see that you are motivated, strong-willed, and take part in multiple activities and want to see that you will continue to do the same in college. Community service is extremely important and looks great on college applications so get involved with clubs that do community service projects because you will be glad you did it now while in high school.

Most of these tips should help you now more than ever. Most of you might have already started this college journey and know what it is you need to do, but others need guidance and this is here to help lead you on the right path or steer you in the right direction. These tips personally helped me and continue to help me to this day with filling out college applications and getting the help I need from college representatives as well as my guidance counselor or even my teachers have had great advice as well over the years. These tips I wish I would have taken more seriously in my junior year and maybe even my sophomore year, but to know these things now is very helpful to my college planning. 

Here are even more tips that any senior could use to efficiently get through their senior year or even juniors can take advantage of and get a head start on their college journey. Additionally, since it is the month of January, there are specific checklists that seniors in high school could follow according to also offers good advice for high school seniors and scholarships and grants for students to enter. 

Lastly, I wish all of you the best of luck in your college searches and journey. I hope all of you find the college that is best for you and you grow as a young adult well beyond high school. Everyone has their own path and the only to find out what it is, is to get out there and explore the world and all options that you have!