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Where Do I Start?

Here are some useful checklists to help with the college process

It's a lot of work and a long process getting ready for college or other post-secondary education. You have to manage your time and stay on track, making choices, meeting deadlines, and filling out lots of information. Your Access advisers are here to try to simplify that process and help you get everything done that you need to. On this page we have supplied a detailed checklist for you to follow your senior year of high school.  We have also included several other valuable checklists developed by

Access Senior Checklist

First Semester

  • Research careers and educational pathways to confirm career path (See your ACCESS Advisor for help)

  • Find out if you are eligible for ACT, SAT, college admissions fee waiver forms (Meet with your ACCESS advisor or School Counselor for more information)

  • Register to take/retake ACT and/or SAT. (See your ACCESS advisor for prep material)

  • Visit the institutions you are interested in. (Check their fall visitation schedule)

  • Narrow your list of colleges and start submitting applications. (Review priority application deadlines. Some priority deadlines are as early as Nov. 1st. Applying to an institution does not mean you are committed to attend. Apply to multiple institutions and then finalize your decision once you receive all of your acceptance letters.)

  • Ask for recommendations from teachers, counselors, coaches and staff at least one month in advance

  • Start researching outside scholarships

  • Create an FSAID for FAFSA (See the Financial Aid page for more details)

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after October 1st, at

Second  Semester

  • Review your college acceptances

  • Compare each of the colleges’ financial aid offers and/or   request award letter, if needed (your ACCESS Advisor can provide you with a great comparison tool)

  • Contact the school’s financial aid office if you have questions or need clarification

  • Review scholarship deadlines and complete applications (See ACCESS Advisor or School Counselor)

  • Make final decision on the institution you plan to attend

  • Notify the school of your commitment and submit necessary documents, information and deposit. (Many schools require this notification and deposit by May 1st)

  • Schedule new student orientation

  • Complete the Master Promissory Note and finalize financial aid

Checklist Resources for Students & Parents

Make a Plan

This CollegeBoard list can be used by any student from junior high school through a high school graduate to help establish the best path forward for an individual. Note that you do need to create a free profile and sign-up. 

Junior Checklist

Junior year is the best time to start your detailed college planning.  From the classes you take, to preparing for the ACT and SAT, to going on some early college visits, and finding out application deadlines, your junior year can help start the college process of on the right foot.

Parent College Checklist 

- Senior Year

It's wonderful when a parent is able to help and support their child through the college preparation, application, and decision process. Remember to always be supportive and don't be afraid to call your child's Access adviser if you have questions!

Senior Checklist

Senior year is the last step before you go on to college, a technical school, or another path.  Be sure to watch application deadlines closely. Senior year is also when you need to start planning on how to pay for your education and filling out the FAFSA forms. Be sure to talk to your Access adviser and your guidance counselor whenever you have questions. 

College Admissions Testing

An ACT or SAT score is required for students applying to many four-year institutions and select two-year institutions.  Many colleges, especially in Midwest US prefer/require the ACT over the SAT.  Although for many institutions, the writing portion of the ACT is not required for admission, but may be recommended.  It is recommended that you at least take the ACT if you plan on going to college.

  • Students in 11th or 12th grade who are enrolled in their school’s federal free and reduced lunch program are eligible for 2 fee waivers while they are an active high school student. Contact your school’s counselor for details.

  • Students are encouraged to register for testing at Students who are not able to register online can see their school counselor for a mail in registration packet.

ACT Dates 2022-2023

  • October 22, 2022

  • December 10, 2022

  • February 11, 2023

  • April 15, 2023

  • June 10, 2023

  • July 15, 2023

SAT Dates 2022-2023

  • November 5, 2022

  • December 3, 2022

  • March 11, 2023

  • May 6, 2023

  • June 3, 2023

I've Been Accepted, Now What?

Many students and family’s have questions about finalizing their post-secondary decision. Once a student has received all of their acceptance letters and determined the best fit many are unsure about the next step.

1. Acceptance letters

Many acceptance letters will list the next few steps towards confirming your attendance. Pay close attention to deadlines and what information they need to finalize your decision.


2. Deposit

Many institutions require a deposit to signup for new student orientation. Most institutions give you several dates to choose from. Keep in mind some institutions use your deposit day and orientation day to determine when you get to signup for classes, housing options, etc.


3. Award Letter

Review your award letter and determine what portions you want to accept or decline. Confirm your housing and dinning plan, if applicable. Determine how much you need to accept in loans. You are not required to accept all that you are eligible for. If you indicated you were interested in Federal Work-study it will be automatically applied to your award letter. (Keep in mind work-study requires you to get a work-study approved job through the institution and 100% of your paycheck will be applied to your bill.) You will have to choose accept or decline for every amount.


4. Other Institutions

Notify the other institutions you applied to that you have decided to decline their offer. While it may feel uncomfortable, institutions really appreciate the information.


5. Finish Strong

Even though you will be a college student in a number of weeks, don’t forget to finish what you started. Keep in mind that colleges can rescind your acceptance letter for falling grades, disciplinary issues, etc. Work hard to remind them why you were accepted and what an amazing asset you will be to their institution.

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