The Best College Application Timeline (2022)

Quad Education graphic: the best college application timeline
October 14, 2022
Creating Your College Application Timeline The Best College Application Timeline College Application DeadlinesFAQs: College Application Timeline


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Creating a college application timeline is the best way to organize everything you need to do in your junior and senior years of high school. This article will tell you everything you need to know about creating a successful college application timeline.

Writing college applications can be stressful enough without having to worry about deadlines. In your junior year of high school, creating a college application timeline is a great idea to keep everything organized.

This article will discuss why you should create a proper college application timeline, give you some steps to do before you create that timeline, and supply you with an example college application timeline that you can use for your application. 

By the end of this article, you will be able to create your own personal college application timeline to set you up for success during the application process!

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Creating Your College Application Timeline 

This section will explain why having a college application timeline can be so important and tell you everything you need to make sure the application process goes smoothly. 

Why Have a College Application Timeline?

A college application timeline is a great way to keep yourself organized when applying to colleges. In general, your junior and senior years of high school are hectic and can be easy to lose track of. 

Having a college application timeline ensures that you can manage the college application process and helps you plan so you’re not rushing through your applications. It will also help you see what you need to do at different times of the year so you can schedule accordingly. 

If you were to rush through your application, you may not get accepted into the college of your desire, which could affect your future. A well-organized college application deadline will help you avoid that.

Some colleges will also require you to take your SATs or ACT. If this is the case, you will want to ensure you take them well ahead of deadlines to avoid delays in your application. So remember to keep these factors in mind.

What to Do Before Creating a College Application Timeline

Before you create your college application timeline, you should do a few essential things. This section will outline three main steps to take before starting the application process.

1. Research Colleges

Before you start your college applications, you need to figure out which schools you want to attend. If you can do this before your junior year, you’ll have a good head start on the college application process.

Make a list of schools you would like to attend and set up an appointment with your guidance counselor so they can talk through what you’ll need for your application–they might even help you with your application timeline.

2. Visit Local Colleges

If you have colleges in your area, see if there would be a time you could visit the campus, even just casually. Taking in the atmosphere of different colleges might give you a clearer idea of what you are looking for in a post-secondary institution. 

3. Attend a College Fair

If a school on your list or one in the area has a college fair, you might consider attending. This will give you the opportunity to speak to either alumni or admission officers and learn a bit more about the school itself.

Attending a college fair can also help you find other schools that you didn't realize were an option. Taking time to explore your options can be extremely beneficial when planning your post-secondary education as you want to make the most out of your opportunities.

The Best College Application Timeline 

Now that you have figured out which schools you want to apply to, you can start creating your college application process timeline. When creating a timeline, you might want to put specific deadlines in your calendar.

Even though the deadlines might seem far away, it is always good to have them already in your schedule so that you always know what is coming up. By doing this, you can also see what assignments or tests you might have in close proximity to application deadlines, which means you can balance your time wisely.

In general, when planning your college application timeline, you’ll want to start in your junior year of high school so you can tackle your college applications at a steady pace.

Quad Education college application timeline

By following this timeline example above, you will have plenty of time to get everything done for your college applications without them interfering with your school work.

January to April of Your Junior Year

We recommend that you start preparing for your college applications during this time with the following activities:

May of Your Junior Year

This is when some of the real work begins:

Summer Between Your Junior and Senior Year

Making sure you stay on track during the summer between your junior and senior years will help you find balance when applying to college. The following are a few things you can work on during your summer break.

September of Your Senior Year

Entering your senior year of high school can be stressful, but by checking these tasks off your college application timeline you’ll be able to stay on track.

October of Your Senior Year

Make sure you know the different deadlines for early action or early decision as this is the time of year application deadlines start to appear. 

November of Your Senior Year

At this point, you should almost be done with your application and should focus on completing supplemental essays for regular decision schools.

December of Your Senior Year

If not already finished, you should:

January to March of Your Senior Year

While you wait to hear from schools, you might need to do the following:

March to April of Your Senior Year

You’ve reached the end of your college application process! As you wait for acceptance letters to roll in, remember to  take note of the following:

Though this timeline is a broad overview of what you will need to keep track of, you will need to make sure you know the specific dates for the schools you are applying to.

College Application Deadlines

Here are a few application deadlines for top schools you might be interested in applying to:

University application deadlines
Sources: UCLA, UC Berkeley, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Princeton University, Duke University, Duke University, Emory University, Yale University, Northwestern University, TUFTs, University of Southern California

If you don’t plan on applying to any of these colleges, make sure to do your research and check each institution’s admissions page to get the deadlines you need.

FAQs: College Application Timeline

Now that we’ve gone through the college application timeline and process, you might still have some questions that need to be answered. Here are a few common questions people have when preparing their college application timeline:

1. When Should I Start College Applications?

Though you will want to start some of the preparation for college applications midway through your junior year of high school, you will not need to open your college application account until the summer between your junior and senior years. 

This will give you time to look through the website and take note of what you will need to submit for their completion.

2. What Are The Steps of The College Application Process?

The college application process starts with deciding what schools you want to apply to and what you will need to submit. This should also be when you start preparing for the ACT and SATs, which you will take in the summer between your junior and senior years. 

Once you start your senior year of high school, you should be able to start the application process and be starting to finalize any essays needed for the applications. You should submit your application in the fall or winter of your senior year, and expect to be notified in the spring.

Final Thoughts

Having a detailed college application timeline is a great way to stay organized and focused when applying for colleges. Making sure you have the dates needed for the applications will help you complete the process and stay on top of school work, which is a vital step in the application process. We wish you the best of luck!

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