5 Last-Semester Tasks for College-Bound High School Seniors

Search for scholarships and keep your grades up during the home stretch of high school.

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A school's office for students with learning disabilities may provide quiet environments to take tests.
A school's office for students with learning disabilities may provide quiet environments to take tests.

Many college application deadlines fall before the end of the year, so once a high school senior's second semester has rolled around, it may seem like it's time to take the foot off the gas. But the second half of senior year is the ideal time to tackle things that may have fallen through the cracks during the push of college applications.

JULIE:

The beginning of the second semester marks a definite change for a college-bound high school student. The college search is winding down, as the applications for most colleges have already been sent in. But here are some things your high school senior can do to take advantage of this time while waiting for acceptances.

1. Search and apply for scholarships: The deadline for applying to a school may have passed, but a school's scholarship deadlines are sometimes different. There are also all kinds of outside scholarships a student can apply for, so the period between application and acceptance is the perfect time to research and apply for scholarships.

[Find out what you need to know about getting scholarships.]

2. Keep grades high: Let's set aside for the moment that there are still things to learn in the second half of a student's senior year; grades can be important for other reasons as well. If a student has applied to a highly selective school, his or her acceptance may depend on senior year grades.

Additionally, those scholarships mentioned above will likely take grades into account as well. Resist the urge to give into senioritis, and keep hitting the books.

3. Continue to research schools: While the initial college search process is over, students and parents can continue to research the schools to which the student has applied. Scouring websites, talking to current students, and even visiting campus—when practical—should all make for an easier decision once acceptance letters begin to arrive.

[Discover the schools where most accepted students enroll.]

LINDSEY:

1. Make sure you're on track for graduation: Some high schools' curricula allow students to work or take college classes part-time during their school day, but my school required a full four years of coursework to graduate. It's not a bad idea to stop by your school's advising office—if you're not already required to do so— to make sure you have the right number of electives, core courses, and have fulfilled all requirements to graduate at the end of the year.

You'd be surprised how many students at my high school were surprised by what they had left to take their final semesters!

[Follow these tips to get into college from the wait list.]

2. Keep in touch with your admissions counselor: The admissions counselor assigned to you is one of the first contacts you will make at your college or university. It may seem like you don't need a counselor after you've applied and been accepted, but this person can be a great resource for you if you ever have questions about financial aid, new student orientation, housing, or a whole host of other subjects.

Admissions representatives are the gateway to any school, so make sure not to toss them aside once your application process is finished. Most reps love making relationships with students and their families, and they can be great people to contact if you have questions during your first year of college.