This article was originally published on Big Future

If you’re planning to apply early decision or early action, follow these steps to stay on track.

Junior Year


  • Take college admission tests.
  • Visit colleges during spring break, if possible.
  • Use College Search to see if the colleges you’re interested in offer an early admission plan.
  • Keep working hard and staying involved in extracurricular activities.

Senior Year


  • Download or request early decision or early action applications from your top-choice colleges and begin working on them.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teachers, your counselor or other references.
  • Complete and submit any early admission applications that are due in October by the college deadline. Take a college admission test if necessary. (You must take the SAT by October, for example, for your scores to be available in time for early decision and early action programs.)
  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which opens on October 1
  • Register for CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, if necessary.
  • Follow up with your references to make sure they have written and sent their letters of recommendation.


  • Submit any early applications due in November by the college deadline.
  • Follow up with any remaining references to make sure they have written and sent their letters of recommendation.
  • Complete and submit regular-decision applications. (If you’re not accepted through an early admission program, you’ll be glad you have a backup plan.)
  • File the CSS/Financial Aid Profile and all other required financial aid forms.
  • Review all requirements and deadlines for financial aid applications and get all your documentation ready to send when requested.


  • If necessary, compare offers and decide which school to attend.