12th Grade Timeline

*Important note about applications: Just because you click the "submit" button does NOT mean your application is complete. You will need to complete a transcript request form in order for your transcript to be sent to a college. You may also need to take the COMPASS or Accuplacer test if you are applying to a technical college. Keep all correspondence you receive from a college, reread the fine print, and address any questions or concerns right away.

A Unique Look at the UW System College Application Process


  • Continue to take a full course load of college-prep courses.
  • Keep working on your grades. Make sure you have taken the courses necessary to graduate in the spring.
  • Continue to participate in extracurricular and volunteer activities. Demonstrate initiative, creativity, commitment, and leadership in each.
  • To male students: you must register for selective service on your eighteenth birthday to be eligible for federal and state financial aid.
  • Talk to counselors, teachers, and parents about your final college choices.
  • Make a calendar showing application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
  • Check resource books, computer programs, and your guidance office for information on scholarships and grants. Ask colleges about scholarships for which you may qualify.
  • Give recommendation forms to the teachers you have chosen, along with stamped, self-addressed envelopes so your teachers can send them directly to the colleges. Be sure to fill out your name, address, and school name on the top of the form. Talk to your recommendation writers about your goals and ambitions.
  • Register for the ACT or SAT if you need to retake it. 
  • Be sure you have requested (either by mail or online) that your test scores be sent to the colleges of your choice.
  • Submit electronically any college applications for early-decision admission by November 1.
  • If possible, visit colleges while classes are in session.
  • Print extra copies or make photocopies of every application you send.


  • Attend whatever college-preparatory or financial aid  nights are being held at your school or by local organizations.
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These forms can be obtained at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov to download the forms or to file electronically. These forms may not be processed before January 1, so don’t send them before then. Gather documents needed to complete the FAFSA!
  • Attend College Goal Wisconsin in February, a free event hosted around the state to help students and parents complete the FAFSA form.
  • Mail or send electronically any remaining applications and financial aid forms before winter break. Make sure you apply to at least one college that you know you can afford and where you know you will be accepted
  • Follow up to make sure that the colleges have received all application information, including recommendations and test scores.
  • Meet with your counselor to verify that all applicable forms are in order and have been sent out to colleges. Make sure you are on track to graduate.


  • Watch your mail for acceptance notifications from colleges.
  • Watch your mail for notification of financial aid awards.
  • Compare the financial aid packages from the colleges and universities that have accepted you.
  • Make your final choice, and notify all schools of your intent by May 1. If possible, do not decide without making at least one campus visit. Send your nonrefundable deposit to your chosen school by May 1 as well. Request that your guidance counselor send a final transcript to the college in June.
  • Be sure that you have received a FAFSA acknowledgment.
  • If you applied for a Pell Grant (on the FAFSA), you will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR) statement. Review this Pell notice, and forward it to the college you plan to attend. Make a copy for your record.
  • Complete follow-up paperwork for the college of your choice (placement exams, scheduling, orientation session, housing arrangements, and other necessary forms).


  • Receive the orientation schedule from your college.
  • Get residence hall assignment from your college.
  • Obtain course scheduling and cost information from your college.
  • Congratulations! You are about to begin the greatest adventure of your life. Good luck!