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Welcome to our monthly update on the college search and application process. Each month, we'll be updating this page and including it in our newsletter, so that all of our subscribers can have access to summaries of what they should be thinking about at this point in the college search process.


These updates will mostly focus on the junior and senior classes. Freshmen and sophomores should focus on maintaining good grades, academically pushing themselves, getting involved in extracurriculars, and making sure their summers incorporate meaningful experiences for growth. 

April 2024


Important Tasks

Begin Developing Your Activities List

Plan for Summer Engagement

Register/Prepare for Standardized Tests (ACT, SAT, AP, IB)

Continue Formulating a College List

  • Begin Developing Your Activities List:  April is a great time to begin crafting your activities list for the Common Application. Other applications may require a similar list, with different questions or character limits (like the University of California application), but the Common App list can serve as a solid foundation to build upon when needed. There are only 10 spaces, and the description of each activity is limited to 150 characters (that's right, not even a complete sentence). In general, the activities list is simply a detailed resume highlighting how students have engaged outside of the classroom throughout high school. 

  • Plan for Summer Engagement: While we firmly believe that students need a brain break over the summer, we also know that the time can be spent in productive and engaging ways. It’s important to do something–anything–over the summer, beyond binge-watching TV shows and movies and hanging out with friends. Some things to consider include pre-college programming on a college campus, learning a new skill (like a coding language, for example), developing and engaging in a passion project, working a part-time or full-time job, conducting research in a lab at a local university, volunteer work, traveling, etc. What colleges hope to see is meaningful engagement, so do something you love!​​​​

  • Register/Prepare for Standardized Tests (ACT, SAT, AP, IB):  April is a great time to start studying for AP and IB testing. Students should also continue preparing for the SAT or ACT. Remember to sign up for exams early and keep your eye out for emails about materials needed to complete the registration process! We recommend all juniors take the SAT or ACT at least once, in order to keep doors open! That being said, there were hundreds of test-optional schools prior to the pandemic, and you can find the most updated list at And a reminder that the University of California and California State University systems are test-blind, meaning they will not be using SAT/ACT scores in the admissions process. They will, however, be using AP and IB scores as an added benefit if you have passing scores. You can register for the ACT HERE and the SAT HERE. If you are interested in utilizing our self-paced test-prep software, please reach out to discuss how to add the service to your current package.

  • Begin Formulating a College List: The College List is the list of schools to which a student plans to apply. We anticipate students having a fairly finalized college list by June, when we begin the essay writing process. As a reminder, there are over 4,000 colleges in the USA alone, and most students will apply to somewhere between 8 and 12 of them. Students who work with Virtual College Counselors are expected to build a balanced college list, including likely, target, and reach schools--and we encourage the same for all students navigating this process. Regardless of which category each school falls into, every school on a student's list should be one they would be excited to attend. Lastly, much like College Fit, it is normal and healthy for the College List to develop and change over time (just like a student).

  • Finalize Senior Year Classes: If you haven’t already done so, it’s important to finalize your senior year classes before the end of April. In general, colleges want to see 4 years of math and English, 3+ years of history and science, and 2+ years of a foreign language. If you’re interested in any of the public universities in California, you’ll also need to be sure that you have a full year of a visual or performing arts course to be eligible to apply. Students interested in highly selective institutions should also be taking as many rigorous courses as they can do well in, and that often means students should be getting through Calculus and Physics in high school.


Important Tasks

Make a Final College Decision and Submit Enrollment Deposit

Manage Waitlist Decisions

Submit Your Housing Deposit

Finalize Your Financial Aid Offer

Send in Official Score Reports

Thank Your Recommenders

  • Make a Final College Decision and Submit Enrollment Deposit: April is finally here, and that means that college decisions should have been delivered! With the current FAFSA delays, many schools are shifting their enrollment deadlines to later in May or sometime in June (you can see a complete list of these changes HERE). Once you do enroll at your chosen institution, don't forget to notify all of your other schools that you  are declining those offers of admission (this can sometimes be done in your prospective student portal). Also, please update us with admission decisions (including merit offers).

  • Manage Waitlist Decisions: If you’ve been waitlisted at one or more schools that are still of interest to you, be sure to follow each school’s instructions for staying on the waitlist. Some schools may go to the waitlist as early as this month, and some may wait until after the fall term starts (most will go to the waitlist over the course of May-June). Students should determine if they want to stay on the waitlist, and they should also determine an internal deadline of when they’d need to hear back from the school to make the switch.

  • Submit Your Housing Deposit: Once you’ve determined where you plan to enroll next year, you should also complete the housing deposit and all required forms. These forms are typically found on the student portal or on the Office of Residence Life on each school’s website. The sooner you submit the housing forms, the more likely it is that you’ll get the housing you want! You can also start completing the forms to meet potential new roommates.

  • Finalize Your Financial Aid Offer: Prior to enrolling in your chosen school, make sure you understand your financial responsibilities. If you have questions about something that is offered in your financial aid letter, be sure to reach out to the office of financial aid to get your questions answered. It’s particularly important for students to be aware of any requirements that need to be met in order to keep merit scholarships! Also, please remember to send us PDFs or screenshots of your college admissions notifications and financial aid award letters as you receive them. If you weren’t offered enough financial aid, you can always try to appeal for more financial aid.

  • Send in Official Score Reports: If you applied to schools using test scores, many colleges require an official score report once you enroll. Double-check with your school if this is a requirement, and then order the official score report from or The College Board (for the SAT).

  • Thank Your Recommenders: If you haven’t done so already, share all of your acceptances with your recommenders. They spent their weekends and after-school hours writing these letters for you, and they will be thrilled about the options you have on the table! Be sure to thank them. We are always partial to a thoughtful handwritten thank you note, and maybe a small gift card or box of chocolates as a token of your appreciation.

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