Graduation Timeline: What to Do Before and After

It’s time! Graduation is coming up, and college is right around the corner. There are a lot of firsts and lasts coming your way.

Do you feel prepared? Does the thought of all those decisions and deadlines make your head spin a little? Don’t panic! We’ll tell you everything you need to know:


  • Finish working on applications for schools and scholarships.
  • As tempting as it may be to procrastinate—write those application essays and request recommendation letters.
  • Finalize your housing choices at the schools you applied to.
  • Schools with limited space fill up quickly, so make sure your deposit and application have been received.
  • If you are renting off-campus, get that roommate lined up and secure a lease.
  • Avoid catching Senioritis! Colleges can and will revoke your acceptance and/or scholarship offers if your grades fall, so stay focused.
  • Keep applying to schools and for scholarships throughout the season!
  • Sign up for your college orientation session to avoid conflicts with trips or summer jobs.


  • Keep the month of April free. That’s when many schools host admitted student programs.
  • Visit or revisit a few campuses as time and money allow to help make that decision in May easier.
  • Study up and take your AP Exams—get some college credits!
  • Check the medical requirements for the schools you’re applying to and get the required vaccinations.
  • Check your email regularly. Colleges and universities typically contact the applicant by email. They could be contacted for an error that needs to be corrected in a timely manner.
  • Be sure all financial aid application materials have been submitted. Some schools may require more than just the FAFSA.
  • Priority financial aid deadlines may have passed, but it is still worth applying to be considered for both need-based aid from the government and/or merit aid from the school.
  • Sign up for graduation registries. Register for dorm decor, necessities, school supplies, and more.
  • May 1st is Decision Day! If you haven’t picked a school yet, today is your deadline to pay your deposit.
  • Take time to enjoy the final stretch. Graduation will be here before you know it.


  • Make a packing list—check out our website for helpful checklists!
  • You made it! Send your final transcript to the school you’ve chosen.
  • Go to the college orientation.
  • Make sure to keep copies of everything—college applications, financial aid papers, and essays. You never know when you may be asked to resend documents, so have them ready!
  • Go through the checklist for adulthood on our website—make sure you are ready for any issues.
  • Give some extra love to your parents—they will miss you!

When To Expect a Response:

  • For early decision applications, it’s usually around mid-December.
  • For rolling admissions, letters are typically sent out 6-8 weeks after applying.
  • Regular admissions deadlines are around the first of the year and sent out March through April.

P.S. Send thank-you notes to teachers, coaches, and/or mentors who provide recommendation letters!

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