2019 College Application Roadmap and Critical Timeline for the U.S.A & Canada College Admissions

If you are a high school senior, 2019 college admissions would be one of the top things on your mind. The next few months are going to be busy as you try to balance your final year school work, extracurricular activities and apply for college admissions. Given most of the colleges in the U.S., Canada, U.K, Australia, Singapore etc. look at your high school transcripts (9th, 10th, and 11th-grade courses and grades), your 12th (Senior year) grades are important but less so in the initial admission decisions.


Below is a high-level timeline for high-school students to follow if they are applying for admissions to the U.S. colleges. This timeline is also applicable to students applying for graduate (M.S., M.B.A., Ph.D. programs).  These tasks and activities are outlined more to help a student manage the process proactively and not wait until the last minute.


August 2018


  • Finalize your tentative college list of about 15 or so colleges you want to apply to. As part of your list, have 30-40% of the colleges that are aspirational/dream schools for you, 30-40% that may be target and 3-4 colleges that are likely for you. Given you are only going to join one college, better to be more aggressive on your aspirational and target colleges.


  • If you are thinking of taking or re-taking any standardized tests, this is the time to register for October exams. Don’t delay these tests until December as many schools like to get the scores by Nov for the ED/EA deadline and some schools may not consider your application if the scores are not in on time.


  • Create a list of critical application dates (EA/ED/Regular Admissions) for the colleges on your list. This will help you manage your applications during Oct – Jan time period


  • Sign-up for Common Application and start working on your common essay prompts. Good to gather your thoughts and ideas on the essays in August.


September 2018


  • Make the decisions around your ED and EA schools. See which school is your ED college and which ones are you going to apply for EA application cycle.


  • Complete the draft of your essays and get feedback from your family members.


  • Complete the draft of Common Application


  • Prepare for your standardized tests – if taking in Oct.


  • Complete the paperwork with your school to request LOR, transcripts etc. as required. Many schools have a process to manage the work at their end and may start this in Aug with Sep. as a final month.


October 2018


  • Complete your ED and EA applications, review them and submit in Oct. Many schools have their ED/EA deadlines starting by mid-Oct.


  • Make sure all standardized test scores and necessary documents are submitted.


  • Check which schools require you to submit any additional application for financial aid, complete and submit.


November – December 2018


  • Complete applications for all the schools on your list and submit it by December 31st. Most of the top 100 colleges have their deadline by early Jan for regular application.


January – April 2019


  • Wait for college application decision


  • Visit colleges you have been admitted to in case you are not sure where to join


  • Start applying for financial aid, loans etc.


  • Confirm your acceptance



Here is a detailed checklist for your college applications.

Make a note of the regular application deadline
Make a note of the early application deadline
Request high school transcript sent
Request midyear grade report sent
Find out if an admission test is required
Take an admission test, if required
Take other required or recommended tests (e.g., SAT Subject Tests, AP Exams, IB exams)
Send admission-test scores
Send other test scores
Request recommendation letters
Send thank-you notes to recommendation writers
Draft initial essay
Proofread essay for spelling and grammar
Have two people read your essay
Revise your essay
Proofread your revision
Interview at college campus
Have an alumni interview
Make a note of the priority financial aid deadline
Make a note of the regular financial aid deadline
Complete college application
Make copies of all application materials
Pay application fee
Sign and send application
Submit college aid form, if needed
Submit state aid form, if needed
Confirm receipt of application materials
Send additional material, if needed
Tell school counselor that you applied
Receive letter from office of admission
Receive financial aid award letter
Meet deadline to accept admission and send deposit
Accept financial aid offer
Notify the colleges you will not attend


Good luck!


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