College Deadlines, Important Dates Approach Quickly


Arkansas Community Foundation Scholarships are broken down by interest area, from agriculture and arts to pre-med. The group also breaks down available scholarships by region. Our school falls in the central region of Arkansas for scholarships. (photo by Lola Simmons)

Applying for college can be an overwhelming process. Between writing numerous essays, applying for scholarships, and compiling transcripts, ACT scores, and teacher recommendations, it can be easy to lose track of important deadlines. I’ve compiled a list of the most important deadlines and significant dates to help you stay on track during the application process.

October 1: FAFSA Opens

If you’re planning to attend a University starting the 2019-2020 school year, the Federal Application For Student Aid is already open. This government aid site collects information from your parents’ tax returns as well as your income in order to determine if you qualify for federal student aid. Even if you don’t think you qualify, you need to fill out the form because you may qualify for some unexpected money. Also, many schools require that you fill this form out if you are trying to receive scholarships.

November 1 to November 15: Early Action Deadlines

If you are using the Common Application to apply for several schools at once, it may be a good idea to apply before the Early Action deadline. The deadline varies by the school but generally falls between November 1 and November 15. There are several benefits of applying early to your schools. Many times, the acceptance rate of Early Action applicants is higher. Additionally, you generally get an earlier admission decision from schools when you apply earlier. In order to meet the Early Action admission requirements, you must complete all elements listed on the Common App for that school and have them submitted before their stated Early Action deadline.

November 1 to January 1: Honors College Applications for in-state schools

Something that I have discovered in applying for several public in-state institutions is that many have rolling admission. This means that many have a large application window and as you apply, they review applications as they receive them and generally give an admission decision within three weeks of your submitted application. However, for many of these schools, Honors College applications are seperate applications that are more in-depth. Many deadlines for these in-state schools fall between November 1 to January 1, but vary by University.

If you’re planning to apply for an in-state school, it could be to your advantage to apply for the honors program of the school because most times a stipend is paid for every year that you are a part of the program. In some cases, such as University of Central Arkansas (UCA) Honors Program, you could receive a full ride to attend UCA and a private dorm room for free.

December 1: Ask for teacher recommendations

For many applications and scholarships, between 1-3 teacher recommendations are required. It is a good idea to ask for these recommendations before leaving for holiday break so that you are not rushing your teachers for deadlines that occur in early January.

When asking for a recommendation, make sure to ask a teacher who knows you well and can speak well of your academic history. It would be to your advantage to provide an academic resume to the teacher so they can write an in-depth recommendation for you. Also remember that it couldn’t hurt to bring them candy or a Starbucks gift card since they are writing an important recommendation for you.

Don’t forget that your counselor will also write a recommendation for you. Most of our counselors require at least two weeks notice for a recommendation, so the earlier you ask, the better off you’re going to be. Before you ask for any recommendations, make sure you clearly understand what you need from your teachers and make sure you are clear with them.

February 1-April 1: Arkansas scholarships

The Arkansas Community Foundation contains a collection of scholarships that are only available for Arkansas Residents attending Arkansas colleges. If you fall in this category, it’s a good idea to take a look at this collection of over 200 scholarships to see if you qualify. The application period is from February 1-April 1 and all scholarships are funded by non-profit organizations or private donors.

July 1submit AP scores to your University

By the time that AP exams roll around in May, you will already know which University you will be attending in the fall! Make sure that when you are filling out the pre-examination packet before your exams that you have this year’s scores send to your college for free. It’s also a good idea to do some research on what AP scores your university accepts. If you haven’t had all of your AP scores sent to your college in the past, you need to pay to send them before the college’s deadline. Many colleges need to receive your scores before mid-July in order to award credit for those courses and exempt you from classes.