Senior Application Advice

Where Should Senior Be in the Application Process

The holiday season is just around the corner. For most people, this means a break from the stresses of work and school, but for high school seniors, this means the deadlines for college applications are right around the corner. Application anxiety among high school seniors is extremely common, so to help, here’s some advice as to where seniors should be and how to get on track with the application process. 

First thing first, make sure applications are done if you’re applying for early action. Deadlines for early actions are set for Nov. 1, with a few exceptions being on Nov. 15. With early action, students have the best chance at getting the most scholarship money since it will begin to dwindle as more and more students get admitted. Since early action is very advantageous, seniors should be shooting for those early November deadlines, but if you don’t think you can finish in time, make a timeline for yourself to try and get it done as soon as possible.

H-F post-secondary counselor Brad Kain encourages seniors to continue moving through the process and try to meet the earliest deadlines to ensure they’re on track.

“The application process we’re in right now, Nov. 1 is only [a few] days away…that’s those early action deadlines so students that are working on those applications should be making sure they’re meeting those deadlines…If they’re not working towards those Nov. 1 deadlines, obviously they’re still moving through that process… they just wouldn’t be on that time crunch that we’re on right now.”

The other crucial thing students need to complete is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an application that allows students to be eligible for need or merit-based financial aid. This isn’t related to scholarships, but for students who can get federal grants or need loans, the FAFSA is essential. To fill out the application, you and a parent need to complete your profile, entering essential information like your social security number, family income, and more. Students entering college next year will complete the 23-24 application and add the school you are applying to on your profile. Once you accept your admission, you will eventually provide the information corresponding to your FAFSA which will allow them to offer financial aid. This is an annual process, but something seniors headed to college needs to have done.

H-F post-secondary counselor Kevin Coy shows his urgency to students to fill out this year’s FAFSA.

“What I’ve been telling students is if you haven’t filled it out yet, we need to jump on that quickly. I would say if you get it done in the next month or so, you should still be good.”

Now some students who are ahead of the game will be in a bit of a waiting period until they accept any admissions they receive. Until that happens, they need to be searching for and applying for scholarships. According to Cain, “That becomes your second job after of course homework and doing applications is that you start searching for opportunities for financial advantage.” Scholarships can be broken into three categories: national, local, and foundational (which will become available in the spring). National scholarships can be found on websites like GoingMerry,, Niche, and others. These are large-dollar scholarships available to students if they meet certain criteria. Local and foundation scholarships are smaller amounts, however, they are more tailored to your community. These can be found somewhere within your high school’s website or another local community source.

Coy advises which scholarships students should focus on applying for. 

“The national-based scholarships, everybody’s applying to those, so it’s going to be less likely that you’re going to receive those. Now am I telling you not to apply to those? Absolutely not. You should still apply to those because you just never know what could happen. What I would focus on is those more of those local scholarships or those small dollar scholarships and apply for as many of those as possible because if it’s $250 or $500, you start adding those up and that adds up pretty quickly.” 

At the end of the day, students just need to continue pushing through the process at a quick pace to put themselves in a good position. First, ensure they have submitted their applications and any other required documents by the university, then fill out the FAFSA to make yourself available for financial aid. Once that’s all set and done, start searching for and applying for scholarships. Most importantly, as Coy states, “…really what seniors should do if they’re ahead is enjoying their senior year, so enjoy every moment because it’ll be over before you know it.”