The College Application Timeline


While everyone goes through the college search and application process in their own time and in their own way, below is a typical timeline for the college process. We tailor our services to match our clients’ unique goals and needs.


Junior year

  • October: Take the PSAT.

How we can help: When and how to begin the college process is the question we answer most often. Starting in the fall of their junior year, we help our students interpret their PSAT scores, make a preliminary plan for standardized testing, and provide an overview of the college process.


  • Begin the preliminary assessment/thinking process. Review your academic standing.
  • Register for the SAT or SAT2 (Subject Tests) at or for the ACT at
  • Take a personality inventory, such as Do What You Are
  • Begin your preliminary college research
  • Start to visit colleges

How we can helpThe winter and spring vacations provide an important opportunity to visit colleges while schools are in session. We develop an exploratory list of colleges to visit to get a sense of what different types of colleges have to offer. We will continue to refine that list throughout the spring and summer as the student becomes increasingly able to articulate the qualities that they seek in the colleges to which they wish to apply.


  • Continue to visit colleges
  • Do an academic assessment: Calculate GPA; review academic requirements and curriculum choices for senior year.
  • Take the SAT, SAT2, ACT, and/or AP exams as recommended and appropriate
  • Learn about your school’s college application process (every school is slightly different in terms of gathering and sending out application materials)
  • Write your resume
  • Create an account with the Common Application
  • Make plans for the summer

How we can help: The student’s transcript is the most important piece of their college application. We assist students with their course selection for senior year, seeking the right balance between rigor and achievement. We also  help students write their resumes, the first piece of the college application that they will complete.


  • Visit colleges and begin to interview
  • Start to work on the Common Application
  • Begin to gather materials for a supplemental portfolio
  • Be involved in meaningful activities: academic programs, jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities


  • Through further research and visits, begin to narrow down the list of colleges you are interested in applying to.
  • Begin to work on Common Application Supplements.

How we can help: Most students have very little interviewing experience, so we help them prepare for effective college interviews. Our goal for our clients to take advantage of the summer months to complete their Common Application so that they can focus on their academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities in the fall. We work closely with our clients on their College Essay (the Personal Statement) so that they craft a piece of writing that reflects who they are, what they value, and how they see the world and is written in their own voice.

End of Summer

Senior year

  • Register for the SAT or SAT 2 or for the ACT
  • Understand your school’s college application process.
  • Solicit recommendations from teachers/coaches/others.
  • Continue working on applications with particular attention to Supplements.

How we can help: All of the pieces of the college application come together in the early fall. We help our clients organize their time and materials so that all their applications will be complete by the deadlines.


  • Plan out Early Decision (I or II)/Early Action deadlines if appropriate
  • Complete your last college visits and interviews
  • Above all, stay focused on your schoolwork so that your grades this semester will be as strong as possible.

How we can help: The decisions about where to apply and whether to apply early action/early decision is complicated and nuanced. We discuss with our clients the pros and cons of this decision and develop an application strategy.

October - December

  • In early spring, begin researching Gap Year opportunities if that interests you
  • By April 15 at the latest, colleges will have mailed their decision letters
  • By May 1, decide which college you want to attend and mail in deposit to reserve your spot

How we can help: Deciding which college to attend is, for most of our clients, the biggest decision they have ever made. We help our students make this choice by showing them various decision making strategies and making sure they’ve gathered all the information available to make that important decision.