JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Application Timeline

Share this timeline with your students as they narrow their college choices and complete their applications.

Keep on track of your application process by following the steps listed below:

  • Research colleges, starting no later than your junior year of high school. Ask your parents, counselors and teachers for recommendations. Use the Internet to check out different college Web sites. Go to college fairs. Visit college campuses. And request colleges to send brochures and catalogs to your home.
  • Review our College Criteria List and make a list of the 5-10 most important factors to you. Compare colleges based on these interests.
  • Write a list of colleges in which you are most interested. Determine which are most difficult to get accepted into, which are easiest and which are in the middle. Select 3-6 colleges, with 1-2 of the most difficult, 1-2 of the easiest and 1-2 of the middle choices. This will be a good list of colleges to which you should apply.
  • Request applications from each of your chosen colleges. Most colleges allow you to download their admissions applications online. Otherwise, call or write to the institution and have materials sent. Keep in mind, if a friend or family member is an alumni of a college, they may be able to get you an alumni referral application. These applications generally waive the cost of applying, saving you money.
  • Make copies of all your applications and put them in order by deadlines. Do the applications with earlier deadlines before you do those with later deadlines.
  • Find out which standardized tests (ACT/SAT) the colleges you choose require. Make sure you register for and take the test(s) necessary.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teachers, counselors, advisors, etc.
  • Fill out the college admissions and financial aid applications. Make sure you fill out every line and complete the essay(s). Double-check all completed forms and keep copies for your records.
  • Talk with your high school counselor about sending official high school transcripts and test scores to the colleges of your choice.
  • Send in your completed applications as early as possible rather than waiting for the deadlines. Be sure to attach any fees or fee waivers.
  • Once you've been accepted by your college of choice, if required by the college, inform the Office of Admissions of your intent to enroll by the required due date.
  • If you were accepted by more than one college, remember to notify the ones you don't plan to attend, so they can extend offers to other applicants.
  • You’re done applying for college. Now it’s time to apply for financial aid!