What does a typical application timeline look like?

Hi Crimson, what does a typical application timeline look like? From sitting exams to submitting the application to finding out the result either early round or regular decision. Thanks!

Hi a.cork!

Here’s a brief summary that would apply to a normal American student, but can easily be translated to an international student’s calendar as well, since when you apply to U.S. schools, you have to work on their timelines!

August to December of the year before your application year (so this timeline begins more than a year away from when your apps are actually due)
1, Begin a list for what you will look for in colleges: size, location, majors, sports, competitiveness
2. Take the PSAT (if you haven’t already)
3. Take as many advanced Math, Science, and English, and Foreign Language classes as you can
4. Start researching colleges and programs
5. Meet with college advisers at your school (if you have any) – start talking to administrators at your school about US admissions. Meet with your counselor (who will have to write a letter of recommendation for you), and get to know them well! Start thinking about which teachers you might want to have write a letter of rec for you.
6. Register to take AP Exams (if applicable)
7. Consider activities and club list, and decide whether to add to extracurricular activities

December to March

  1. Tour some schools in the U.S. if you can!
  2. Study for the SAT, grab some high quality Crimson tutoring, and ace that thing!
    1. Plan your senior year (4th year of NZ high school), matching course selection to entrance requirements for the colleges you are interested in
  3. Start working with a Crimson U.S. University Consultant and begin learning about specific colleges and their application requirements, plus financial aid if you’ll need it
  4. Compile a list for possible scholarships

March to June

  1. Work with a Crimson strategist to refine your list of colleges.
  2. Apply for summer enrichment programs at U.S. colleges or internships in your community
  3. Contact reference writers and let them know your timeline!
  4. Prepare for and take SAT Subject Tests, using a Crimson tutor for assistance in your preparation!

June to September

  1. Visit college campuses if you can, and finalize your list of colleges with your Crimson strategist
  2. Make early decision preparations (applying to a U.S. university early is highly recommended, but doing it without a Crimson consultant is very difficult!)
  3. Volunteer or get a part-time job to bolster your experience profile
  4. Begin work on your essays with your Crimson consultant!


  1. Retake SAT/ACTs if necessary
  2. Finish your common app essay, work on your early decision school(s) supplements and financial aid requirements with your Crimson consultant


  1. Review your transcripts and prepare for Early Decision
  2. Use a dedicated Crimson financial aid consultant to help you contact your chosen schools to request information on Financial Aid if you need it!
  3. Make sure school selection is DONE, and write out a list of all application requirements and deadlines for each school with your Crimson strategist
  4. Confirm letters of recommendation with reference writers are FINISHED, and make sure your counselor has submitted ALL required school forms and his/her letter of recommendation
  5. Finalize résumé / CV


  1. Early Decision Deadline
  2. Complete Common Application, fill in all information with your consultant (don’t forget to send in all those final SAT scores!)
  3. Complete Supplements, and have your consultant finalize edits on your essays
  4. Begin preparing for college interviews with your U.S. consultant


  1. Make sure all applications and financial aid information has been checked by your Crimson consultant and strategist, and try to submit around 3 weeks before the deadline; schools look very kindly upon students who get their apps in early. It shows that the student is driven, organized, and ready to be a U.S. college student.
  2. Prepare for interviews!
  3. Make sure to send all final school transcripts + final standardized test scores if you still have some!
  4. Sit back and relax as your friends panic and finish their stuff last minute :wink:

January to February

  1. Interviews

March to April

  1. Begin receiving results in mid-March, and continue to receive results until the end of April
  2. If you’re waitlisted, write a letter (or letters) to the schools that waitlisted you, show them the progress you’ve made, and work with your Crimson consultant to get off that waitlist!
  3. Find out your results, look at deposit amounts for schools you’re accepted to, make sure you know the deadlines when deposits are due (your consultant will tell you!), and enjoy your ‘American’ summer before going to college in the states!

That’s just about it. Of course, the devil is in the details. That’s why you don’t want to do all this by yourself. It’s so much easier – and your application will be so much better – with a Crimson consultant by your side.


Crimson Q&A to the rescue again! Thanks Gabe!