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Senior Year To-Do List for Parents

Senior year can zoom by, for you and your child. This senior year to-do list will help whether this is your first or fifth time parenting a senior.

Girl at graduation in cap and gown


Schedule Senior Photos

Senior Year To-Do List starts with getting photos scheduled. Check out some professionals that have experience with senior photos. There are plenty of opportunities to have your amateur photographer friend take pictures, however, this is not the time. These pictures will be some of the lasting memories of your child’s senior year, and you want them to look amazing.

Plan to spend time with them

This year has many opportunities and activities for them to fill up their days. Don’t let this year slip away while they remain busy with senior year projects. Plan to spend intentional time with them. For example, this time could be a family game night each week or a getaway weekend with only you and them. This time will also be some of their best and lasting memories of living at home.

Find opportunities for them to shadow people

If your child has a career they want to pursue, the chances are that you know someone in that field. You might know someone in that exact role. Ask them if your child can shadow them for a day, or intern for a couple of weeks. Most of your child’s understanding of careers so far has come from you, the media, or their friends’ parents. Give them this opportunity to explore more.

Start college applications

If your child plans on attending college, they’ll need to begin with applying. College applications need at least one essay. Have your child start writing their general essay. Also, have them identify 4-7 colleges that capture their interest. These colleges should meet your child’s criteria for college. This list should be attainable and offer the field of study they plan to pursue.

Schedule standardized tests

The two major tests, the SAT and the ACT, are still the gold standard in standardized testing. Colleges need scores from at least one of these two tests. Have your child take their test early in the year, in case they need or want to retake it for a chance at a better score.


Visit college campuses or trade schools

For students planning on attending college or a trade school, visit the location beforehand. Pamphlets and websites only go so far. Get a better picture of the experience by spending some time on campus. Most high schools will allow seniors to take a couple of days away from class to visit college campuses. Help guide your child by driving them to these visits. Along the way, talk about your experience in and after high school.

Ask for letters of recommendation

College applications often need or recommend letters of recommendation. Remind your child to ask about these letters early on. Asking a teacher, coach, or another mentor to write a letter of recommendation is a display of respect. In addition, show them more respect by giving them ample notice.

Help your child fill out the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, opens on October 1. Students will need some income information from you to complete it. It’s free and doesn’t take very long.

Order Cap, Gown, and Graduation announcements

Plenty of cushion should be here. There are often backlogs or holdups with companies that handle these services. That is to say, don’t wait until the last minute.

Teach them some necessary life skills (see our Adulting Checklist blog)

Laundry isn’t the only thing you need to teach them about before they leave the nest.

Give them a beautiful gift

Only one. It doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive, or large. But it should be meaningful. Jewelry and watches are typical. Whatever it is, make sure that you impart a sense of responsibility and trust to them.


Have your child meet with their academic advisor

Make sure all their ducks are in a row for graduation. If something’s amiss, figure it out quick. The school faculty might not tell your child whether they are graduating before it’s too late. Above all, make it your child’s responsibility to own their graduation.

Send out graduation announcements

Do this three weeks before graduation.

Plan a graduation party

Your child will have so many things going on right now. Therefore, they most likely won’t be able to plan a graduation party themselves. Take care of as much of the preparation as you can. Let them feel free to plan the theme, location, and guest list.

Remind your child to thank their teachers or coaches

These are the people that have poured into your child with wisdom, work ethic, and good examples. It can often be a thankless job, but they love it. Remind your child to give them recognition. They’ll appreciate it and continue to mentor others for a long time to come. This senior year to-do can often go overlooked, don’t let it pass by!

Plan a senior trip with (or for) them

Here’s another one that your child will love if you take the reins and plan for them. Allow them to give you some guidance, but hammer out the details for them. However, this trip doesn’t have to be long or lavish, but it should be somewhere new and different. The trip doesn’t only serve as a celebration, it is also a rite of passage from high school childhood into adulthood.

Let up on the leash

They’ve done all they can do for graduation and college or trade school acceptance. That is to say, let them have fun and enjoy the rest of their time. Hey, enjoy it yourself, too!