Beacon 12th Grade Plan


  • Schedule a meeting with your college counselor. Be sure to meet with your counselor before October 1.
  • Note specific standardized test requirements and deadline dates. The first ACT registration deadline is usually in mid-August; the first SAT registration deadline is in late July. Make sure that you are following your testing plan.
  • Keep your grades up all year! Your first semester grades will be used by many colleges to evaluate you, and any offer of admission is contingent on the successful completion of your academic coursework.
  • Gather information for your activities, awards, honors, work experience, and other recognition for use on general applications and scholarship/honors program applications.
  • Compose essays for the Common Application. You should aim to return to school with drafts ready for review. See your English teacher or college counselor for revision help.
  • Revise your college list; eliminate unrealistic choices; add new options. At this point, you want to build your “intend to apply” list. Ultimately, you want 5-8 choices that vary between reach, target, and likely schools. Do not apply to any school that you are not excited to attend.
  • Review intended applications for supplemental essays. Start composing these essays and shorter responses. Most schools will publish their unique essay prompts by August 1. Many schools place particular weight on the “Why College X?” prompt.
  • Consider pursuing a possible binding Early Decision plan if one college has emerged as a top choice. Discuss this possibility with your parents and college counselor, and make sure that you understand the terms of any binding decision.
  • Register with NCAA Initial Eligibility Center if considering collegiate athletics at a Division I or II school. Be sure to discuss your recruitment plans with your college counselor, the appropriate coach(es), and the athletic director.
  • Engage in a "case study" exercise to reflect on how admissions offices make decisions.
  • Attend the senior potluck and college kickoff extravaganza.
  • Review plans with college counselor, narrow your list to 4-6 schools. Make sure you have at least one “likely” school.
  • Review all applications that you must fill out; ensure that you have access to these applications.
  • Submit first revision of Common Application essays. Collate essay topics from any CA Supplements or proprietary college applications.
  • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting Beacon.
  • Attend Beacon’s college fair (co-hosted with Lycee Francais Chicago).
  • Attend the NACAC National College Fair at McCormick Place.
  • Register for and take ACT and SAT.
  • Ensure that your online applications are meticulously proofread. Use the Common App’s PDF Generator to print and revise your applications.
  • Plan any fall campus visits. Remember that you are given three “college” days in your senior year to go on these visits, though you must fill out the appropriate paperwork with your college counselor and Ms. Dixon.
  • Consult online scholarship resources ( and are excellent scholarship databases) to identify outside sources of aid. Beacon maintains a full list of scholarship providers on Naviance.

  • OCTOBER 1 – By this date, all “rolling” admissions applications, including applications for state universities like Iowa, should be submitted to those universities.
  • OCTOBER 16 – Deadline for submitting applications to college counselor for Early Decision/Early Action November 1 deadline for review.
  • OCTOBER 30 – Deadline for submitting applications to college counselor for Early Decision/Early Action November 15 deadline for review.
  • File FAFSA (financial aid forms) through anytime after October 1. This form is required for all need-based financial aid and is based on IRS data from the prior tax year. Using the Data Retrieval Tool provided by the IRS will make this form relatively easy to file and will lessen your chances of being selected for income verification. Also, check to see if any colleges on your list require the CSS/PROFILE. If so, file this form as well. Please note that this second form requires a lot of financial information.
  • Release all SAT/ACT scores to early application schools (Rolling, ED/EA). Traditionally, colleges and universities require you to submit official test scores through the testing agencies, though many colleges give applicants a self-reporting option. We do not place test scores on/with transcripts unless specifically requested by the student.
  • Finalize any binding early decision plans with your family and your college counselor. Please keep in mind that ED agreements are binding and not to be entered into lightly.
  • Visit college counselor regularly to discuss plans.
  • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting Beacon.
  • Research and enter scholarship competitions.
  • Revise second draft of essays and submit for further review (if necessary). Produce final drafts of any essay material needed for 11/1 or 11/15 applications.
  • Take ACT/SAT tests.

  • NOVEMBER 1 – Major deadline for early decision/early action
  • NOVEMBER 15 – Major deadline for early decision/early action
  • NOVEMBER 30 – Deadline for submitting applications to college counselor for January 1 college deadlines for review.
  • Take SAT and/or ACT.
  • Apply for scholarships. Many schools have scholarship deadlines in November. Pay close attention to “priority” application deadlines, especially if you hope to receive institutional merit aid or if you are applying to an “impacted” program at a university.
  • Attend meetings with college representatives visiting Beacon.
  • Work on regular decision applications over Thanksgiving holidays.
  • Aim to complete final drafts of application essays by the end of the month.

  • DECEMBER 1 – Deadline for some applications (ED/EA). A few colleges have non-traditional deadline days. Be sure to know when all of your application deadlines are.
  • DECEMBER 10 – Deadline for submitting applications to college counselor for January 15 college deadlines.
  • Take SAT/ACT if necessary. Ideally, you should be finished with all standardized testing after the December sittings.
  • Most early and “rolling” admissions decisions will return shortly before Christmas.
  • Complete applications in advance of January 1st Regular Decision deadline.
  • Confirm official test scores sent to colleges of your choice. At this point, all pertinent test scores should be sent from the official testing agency to the relevant colleges.

  • JANUARY 1 – Major deadline – Regular Decision (Ivies, National Universities)
  • JANUARY 15 – Major deadline – Regular Decision (National Liberal Arts Colleges)
  • Mid-year reports mailed to colleges.

  • FEBRUARY 1 – Final major deadline; for many colleges, this is also the financial aid deadline, though this date can vary dramatically from one institution to the next.
  • All forms for counselor completion are submitted. At this point in the calendar, the college counseling staff begins to shift their attention to the junior class. Please work to complete your responsibilities in the application process by February 1.
  • All official test scores have been mailed or requested.

  • Colleges begin to announce regular decisions.
  • Financial aid awards are released (though with an October start to the financial aid calendar, many colleges have gotten out need-based awards earlier in the calendar).

  • APRIL 1 - Most colleges aim for decision notification by this date. Financial aid and scholarship award letters will also be sent. PLEASE share admissions decisions with your college counselor and submit all scholarship and aid award letters to the College Office as soon as they are received.
  • Financial aid awards announced.
  • Visit colleges to which you have been accepted if necessary. These visits should only be pursued if you are wavering between acceptances.
  • Attend Accepted Student Receptions, particularly if you are undecided on where to attend.
  • Respond to all waitlist offers. Ask to be removed from the waitlist if you have made another choice. If you wish to remain on the waitlist, work with your college counselor to compose a letter of interest and to update your file with recent grades, awards, and achievements.

  • MAY 1 – Major deadline; National Reply/Deposit Date
    (Only waitlists will be pending after this date. Otherwise, students should choose a single offer of admission by May 1. Do not maintain matriculation deposits at multiple schools after this deadline.)
  • Waitlist offers will be made between May-July
  • IB Examinations
  • Graduation