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Countdown to SUNY: 12th Grade Plan

Summer (Prior to your senior year)

  • Take the SAT II subject tests if your potential colleges require them and you have finished the curriculum which would help you score well. If you and your family are experiencing financial hardship, ask your counselor about a fee waiver.
  • Narrow your list of colleges to 4 to 8. Make sure these are a right match for you. Just because a relative attended an Ivy League school, doesn't mean it is a good fit for you.
  • Visit the three schools at the top of your list (be sure to include SUNY). Schedule your visit in conjunction with a family vacation or when colleges are hosting events. Visiting when classes are in session will give you an opportunity to see the campus in "full swing" and talk with current students.
  • Decide whether you'll apply as an Early Decision or Early Action candidate and begin preparing your application for admission. These deadlines are typically in early to mid-November of your senior year.
  • Focus on your college essay. Begin with a list your positive qualities, strengths, personality characteristics and traits. Then create an outline, decide where to include examples and write your first draft. Don't worry about making it perfect; just let your ideas flow. You can fix mistakes and improve your writing in later drafts.
  • Contact coaches, if applicable, and include your high school sports schedule and game tapes. Be sure to tell them why you are interested in their program and school.
  • Create an arts portfolio, if applicable, to showcase your performing, visual or creative arts work. Your portfolio may include essays, photographs, illustrations, slides or other forms of artwork. A portfolio should represent your best creative work from class projects or assignments and be consistent with portfolio instructions given by an individual campus program.
  • Update SOAR with your senior year schedule. Be sure to include courses in progress and courses you plan to take next semester.
  • Remember - the SUNY online application is available August 1

September/October

  • Have a strong senior year . . . take at least four academic courses and earn good grades. Colleges may ask to review your mid-year grades.
  • Review your high school transcript in mid-September to be sure it is accurate.
  • Plan ahead! This is a busy time for your school counseling office. Provide your counselor with a list of schools to which you intend to apply and give him/her a list of dates for letters, forms, etc.
  • Identify teachers and counselors from whom you will ask for letters of recommendation. Give serious consideration to teachers who can speak to the rigor of your curriculum and your potential for success.
  • Discuss essay topics with your teachers and/or counselor. If you haven't done so already, write a first draft of your college essay. Visit the College Board for tips on writing your essay.
  • Ask your family, friends, and teachers to review your essay for grammar, punctuation, readability, and content.
  • Organize! Create a folder for each college to which you are applying and make special note of deadlines. Also create separate folders for tests you've taken or plan to take, financial aid forms and fee waivers.
  • Inquire about dates (and pre-registration dates) for upcoming standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT and AP.
  • Create a résumé which includes your high school, graduation date, grade point average, class rank, standardized test scores, special courses taken, academic honors and awards, activities (including athletics, leadership, community service, and work), interests and major goals. Keep your résumé brief . . . one to two pages maximum.
  • Apply to SUNY. It's fast, easy, secure and available 24/7. Check out the Online Application Worksheet to draft your answers first.
  • Submit your SUNY Online Academic Record (SOAR) to the SUNY campuses to which you have applied. You will need to request an unofficial transcript from your school counselor before you begin. Be sure to include courses in progress and courses you plan to take next semester.
  • Attend upcoming college fairs - most will occur in September, October and November.
  • Keep your counselor updated about where you've applied for admission and let him/her know how you've applied (SUNY Application, Common Application, etc.).
  • Remember to print/photocopy your entire application before submitting it for review.
  • Follow-up with your counselor and/or teachers to ensure that your letters of recommendation have been sent.
  • Contact colleges regarding support services if you have a learning or physical disability.
  • Continue to investigate scholarship opportunities. A good resource is FastWeb.
  • Plan on auditioning for a music program or scholarship? Each SUNY campus has its own process for scheduling auditions. In some cases, the department will contact you directly to schedule an audition after receiving your application. Other programs ask that you schedule your audition as soon as possible whether you have submitted your application or not. Check with each campus about how and where to schedule an audition.
  • Plan on playing a sport? Be sure to file the proper paperwork with the NCAA Clearinghouse - see your coach, athletic director or counselor for assistance.
  • Update SOAR with your senior year schedule. Be sure to include courses in progress and courses you plan to take next semester.

November/December

  • Attend area financial aid programs or workshops.
  • Focus on financial aid and enlist the assistance of your parents/family members. For each college on your list, calculate the total cost of a year (two semesters) using SUNY’s Net Price calculator.
  • Give your counselor enough time for completing forms and sending transcripts for scholarships for which you are applying.
  • Practice your college interview skills by participating in a mock interview.

January/February

  • Stay focused and keep studying.
  • Attend area financial aid programs or workshops.
  • Ask your counselor to send mid-year grades to colleges to which you’ve applied, if required.
  • Ask your parents/family members to complete their tax return as soon as possible - this is important as federal financial aid and most scholarships work on a first-come, first-served basis. If your family receives assistance from government social services, make sure your caseworker knows that a copy of your family's financial budget will be needed in January. Go to FAFSA and complete your application.
  • Register for May AP exams.

March/April

  • Look for decision letters.
  • Make photocopies of all decision letters and scholarship letters/awards you've received and give to your counselor. These copies will help your counselor know from whom you've heard and will enable him/her to compile yearly school profile statistics.
  • Maintain good senior year grades. Failure to do so may result in your acceptance offer(s) being rescinded.
  • Review financial aid and scholarship offers you've received. If you have questions, call offices directly.

May/June

  • Make your college decision by May 1. Notify the colleges you won't be attending so other students who were placed on waiting lists can be admitted.
  • Send your tuition deposit (if required).
  • Notify your guidance counselor of your college decision and request that a final transcript be sent to that college.
  • Notify your counselor and those who've awarded you a scholarship (for scholarship recipients) about where you'll attend as most will send a scholarship check directly to the college you plan to attend.
  • Ask your counselor to send your final transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center (for athletes).

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