An independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, DC


The senior year can be hectic, but this month-by-month guide will help to keep students and parents organized and on track with the college admission process.


  • Schedule a meeting with your college counselor.
  • Create your Common Application account if you don’t already have one. The Common Application can be used to apply to more than 450 colleges and universities, so it’s likely you will be sending it to one (or all) of the colleges on your list.
  • Narrow your list of colleges. (Eventually you want about 6.)
  • Be aware of any especially early application deadlines and plan appropriately!
  • If you are (re-)taking the SAT or ACT this fall, register online now.
  • Potential NCAA Division I and II athletes: Go to the NCAA Eligibility Center and register if you haven’t.
  • Prospective college athletes should (re)initiate contact with coaches (either yourself or through your coach).
  • Ask two teachers to write your recommendations.
  • If you are applying to a college with an October 1 deadline, your transcript request form and your teacher recommendation requests must be submitted by September 15. The requests are due on September 30 for October 15 deadlines.
  • All applicants: Make a tentative list of your extracurricular activities. Let it sit for a few days. You'll usually think of something you left out.

September - October

  • Early applicants: Show your college counselor a draft of your college essay well before the deadline for an application.
  • Visiting college campuses: At least two school days before going to visit a college campus, pick up a visit form from the College Counseling Office and get the signatures of the teachers whose classes you will be missing. You should then get your college counselor’s signature and hand the signed note to Ms. Bolton. While one or two such visits may be inevitable, missing more days will be detrimental to your academic performance, so be selective about where you go.
  • Attending college information sessions at Potomac: You must be excused by the teacher whose class you will miss! Pick up a purple form in the College Counseling Office and see your teacher(s) at least 24 hours in advance of the class that you will miss. Please note that a teacher may deny you permission. If you cannot or do not want to miss class, stop by the office to greet the representative and fill out an information card if s/he offers you one. College representatives schedule visits from mid-September through November. The list will be available online and will be posted in the College Counseling Office.


  • SAT and Subject Tests are given this month.
  • The registration for the November SAT is due in early October.
  • By the end of the first week of this month, you need to have confirmed with two teachers that you have asked them for recommendations.
  • Your transcript and teacher recommendation requests are due on October 15 if you are applying to a college with a November 1 deadline.
  • Early applicants: Send your scores to your early college about three weeks before the application deadline. If you are taking the October SAT or ACT, just send your scores to the early college when you register.
  • Financial aid applicants: As soon as possible after October 1, see if your colleges (especially the ones to which you’re applying early) require the CSS/Financial Aid Profile form. If they do, complete and submit the form ASAP.
  • Use Columbus Day to visit colleges.
  • The ACT is given this month.


  • The SAT is administered in early November.
  • If you haven’t completed all your requests of your teachers for recommendations, do it no later than November 14.
  • Registration for the December ACT and SAT is due in early November.
  • If you haven't written an application essay by mid-November, write one over Thanksgiving break.
  • All applicants: Turn in the Transcript Request forms for each of your applications as soon as you know where you are applying, but no later than November 14.
  • Continue completing your applications and double-check all your application deadlines.


  • All applicants: In early December, submit scores to colleges that have a January 1 or later deadline.
  • Colleges should mail early decisions by mid-December. Notify your college counselor and the teachers who wrote on your behalf when you learn the decision.
  • If you wrote your essay over Thanksgiving break or just haven't shown it to a teacher yet, make sure someone reads it before Winter Break.
  • The SAT and ACT are administered this month.
  • Finish working on your applications during Break.
  • Attend to deadlines! You may have one on January 1 or 15.


  • If you are applying for financial aid, submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible after January 1.
  • Complete applications with February deadlines.
  • Maintain your grades, especially if you were deferred in the early cycle or are waitlisted. If you’re already admitted, remember that your college will see your final transcript before allowing you to enroll.
  • If you have a clear first choice and are certain you will attend a college if admitted, write a letter to let that college know your commitment.


  • Hang in there! By now you have probably submitted all your applications and now just have to wait. Continue doing your best academic work.
  • Many colleges have a priority financial aid deadline of February 15 or March 1, so make sure to submit your FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid Profile form if you haven’t already done so.

Late March - Mid-April

  • College decisions arrive. Notify your college counselor and the teachers who wrote on your behalf when you learn the decisions.

April - May

  • Continue to work hard in all your courses! High school is a four-year commitment!
  • Visit colleges if you need to do so to make a decision.
  • Notify colleges as soon as you definitely know you are going to attend (or not).
  • Discuss financial aid packages with your college counselor if the packages differ significantly or if you have questions about them
  • Get an additional letter of support if you are staying on a waitlist. See your college counselor first, though.
  • Send a "YES" reply to one college by the end of the month, even if you are pursuing a waitlist. The reply should be in the college office by May 1.
  • Some waitlist decisions are made this month and others are made in June.