College Timeline

We get it: Applying to college can be daunting. Between staying on top of requirements, wrangling recommendations and crafting the perfect personal statement, there’s a lot to keep track of. That’s why we made this handy timeline, so that you can focus less on the busywork and more on making the best decision for you. 

Pro Tip: Focusing on the items in bold can help you home in on the most important steps for each stage of the process.

Sophomore Year: Gather Information

  • Begin researching areas of study and careers that capture your interest. Your high school counselor can be a great resource for exploring your future.
  • Keep track of your extracurricular activities, responsibilities and accomplishments. These will be helpful in filling out your application and may point to a theme for your personal statement.
  • Start researching schools by checking out their websites and attending a college fair at your high school or in your area.

Junior Year: Get Down to Business

Esports at canisius
Studying for your degree is just one part of the college experience. Be sure to look for clubs, organizations and events that reflect your interests.
  • Narrow down the list of schools that you’re interested in.
  • Learn about the application process and timeline.
  • Create a list of questions that reflect what’s important to you. Do you want a small school with personal attention or a large university doing major research? Do you want the excitement and opportunity of a big city or the peace and quiet of a campus in the country? Each school offers something different, so it’s important to think about what you want.
  • Meet with college representatives coming to your high school.
  • Schedule an initial visit to your top schools.

Summer Before Your Senior Year: Get Organized

  • If you haven’t done so, schedule a visit to the schools you are considering.
  • If you’re planning to take the SAT and/or ACT, schedule either or both exams.
  • If you’re interested in playing a sport at the collegiate level, learn more about the process.
  • Connect with individuals whom you would like to write your letters of recommendation. Think teachers, coaches, supervisors and others who know you well and will make your application shine.
  • Start writing your personal statement and other essays. There are countless ways to write your statement, but keep in mind that it should reflect you as an individual.

Senior Year: Apply, Apply, Apply 

open house tour at canisius college
Attending an open house is like test-driving your future college, so attend as many as possible to make sure that it’s a right fit for you!

August-November: Assemble a Winning Application

  • Begin filling out applications. Confused about applying for early decision, early action or rolling admission? Here’s how to decide:
    • Early decision: Submit your application early, get your decision early – but the decision is binding, which means you must attend that school. Save this option for your first-choice school that you know for sure you want to attend.
    • Early action: Like early decision, you submit your application earlier (for example, Canisius’ early action deadline is Dec. 1.), but the decision is nonbinding – you’re free to consider offers from other schools. 
    • Rolling admission: Get your decision after schools have made other decisions about early decision/action candidates.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is available on Oct. 1.
  • Attend open houses.
  • Keep track of decisions at the schools that you applied to.

December-February: Crunch the Numbers

  • Learn about specialized scholarship opportunities and your eligibility to apply.
  • Review your financial aid award letters.
  • Refine the list of colleges you are considering. Now is a good time to pull up that list of questions that you made in your junior year and reflect on what you want out of your college experience.

March-May: Decision Time!

  • Attend accepted student events or shadow days.
  • Make your pick. May 1 is the national deadline to make your college decision.
  • Celebrate. You did it! Take a moment to congratulate yourself on a job well done.

    Ready to learn more about Canisius?

    Get in touch with Canisius’ Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 716-888-2200 or @email. Our team of counselors is here as a resource for you and your family as you embark on this exciting journey.