High School Senior Holiday To-Do List

By Lwilliams

We look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday just like the next person. Who doesn't like time with family and friends, stuffing your face with some good food, and relaxing a little? But, if you are a high school senior, this is probably not the best time to chill out. College applications are due soon, not to mention the loads of other tasks you need to finish before graduation. And, while it may be tempting to lounge on the couch after a tryptophan trip, forgetting about school, homework, and your college apps, now is actually the perfect time to start working on any remaining college planning tasks. To help you prioritize your tasks, here’s a short holiday to-do list that should get you moving in the right direction. 

  1. Register for the January SAT

    If you missed the deadline for the December Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and still need to take (or retake, it happens) the test, you can still register for the January 24, 2014 exam date. The last day to register is December 29, unless you want to pay a late fee (ain't nobody got time for that). Be sure to use some of your free time to try a few practice exams and study for the test (because you should really make time for that).
  2. Get Recommendation Letters

    If you haven’t asked for recommendation letters by now, seriously, what are you waiting for? You still have some time, though, to get those requests in. Just remember, the holidays can be hectic for people, especially teachers and business owners, so give them some time (typically four to six weeks) to complete letters for you. Want them to know what to brag about? Give them some hints by providing a resume, list of accomplishments, and any other information that you would like included in the letters. The sooner you ask them, the more willing they will be to help you out.
  3. Complete College Application Essays

    The holiday break is a perfect time to tweak and polish those college application essays you should have been working on since late summer. If you procrastinated (we've all been there) and haven’t started yet, use this time to craft your rough drafts and have them ready for review when you return to school next week. Give yourself enough time to review each essay, and double check each one meets all guidelines and elements required for submission.
  4. Search for Scholarships

    Although many scholarship programs have deadlines between January and May, there are several programs with deadlines right now (including our very own $10,000 "Get Up & Go!" scholarship). Take some time to register for a free account with several online scholarship search services, and choose five to ten programs to complete over the next few weeks. Don’t forget to check with your guidance counselor and see what local scholarship opportunities might be available, too.
  5. Keep Your Grades Up!

    It can be tempting, but now is not the time to slack off. Senioritis can hit hard this time of year, but remember that colleges will look at your grades (especially your fall grades since they are the most recent), so try to finish strong. Make it a priority to complete all your assignments, prepare for upcoming exams, and ask about grade recovery, if needed. If you are struggling in a class, meet with your teacher or guidance counselor to find out if there are any study sessions, tutor help, or other resources available that may help you pull up your grades. Don’t wait until after report cards are issued to ask for help.

Thanksgiving holiday break is to college planning as Black Friday is to Christmas gift shopping (how’s that for some SAT prep?). While you start your holiday planning, don’t forget to include college admissions applications and all your other college checklists, too. Make your lists. Check them twice. All this planning just might help get you what you really want — an acceptance letter from your dream school.