If your child is a junior in high school or about to enter their senior year, this is the time to start planning for their future. There are a lot of tasks that must be completed prior to your child getting accepted to a college or enrolled in a trade school, including a busy schedule packed with deadlines. Help your child prepare by sharing this month-by-month list with them, and together, you can successfully tackle all the tasks ahead.

Please note, the milestones, tasks, and dates below may vary according to location, specific school requirements, etc. This is intended to be a general guideline.

Summer before Senior Year



  • Visit your guidance counselor to review your schooling options and the application process.
  • Request that two of your favorite teachers write you letters of recommendation.
  • Request applications for the schools you are interested in and create a schedule of deadlines.
  • Start thinking about your college essay.
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT exams as required. It’s best to take them as soon as possible so if you want to retake them to improve your score, you can.



  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online after October 1st. You should apply as soon as possible after the form is available. Deadlines for application may vary by state and college.
  • Narrow your list of schools to your top contenders, and start working on applications.
  • Consider attending College Fairs which are usually held in the Fall.
  • Request your high school transcripts and ensure that they are accurate; if not, you’ll have time to have the error fixed.



  • Complete your school applications and essay.
  • Start looking for financial aid available at the colleges/trade schools you’re interested in, as well as any scholarship opportunities. Note any deadlines for applying for aid.
  • Make sure you’ve taken your SAT/ACT; if not, register now. December will be your last opportunity.



  • Most schools have application deadlines in December, but deadlines vary by school. Be sure to keep track of your application deadlines and submit your application ahead of time. Don’t wait until the last minute.


With some careful planning and preparation, you can help your child navigate their senior year and get ready for an exciting future.

This post is the second in a series, entitled: Parents’ Guide to Graduation and Beyond. We’ve designed this blog series to help parents navigate the challenges their children will face as they pursue educational and training opportunities beyond high school and enter the workforce. Please check back here for additional installments.

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