Your Serve! Why Your Senior Year is Just Like Pickleball (yes, really).

There are so many steps and processes required to find the right college, apply, get accepted and get enough aid to make it affordable that it an be absolutely overwhelming.

If only there was a simple analogy that came complete with explanations, timelines and resources to make it easier…

Well, you’re in the right place! In today’s post, I will use the game of pickleball to make the senior year college process much easier to understand! Don’t worry if you’ve never played- or even hate pickleball- the analogy won’t be lost on you.

  1. Pickleball is a game where two teams of two players stand on opposite sides of the net (families on one side and colleges on the other).
  2. One team (the family) serves the ball over the net into the other team’s side of the court (colleges and financial aid organizations).
  3. The receiving team (colleges and financial aid organizations) must hit the ball back over the net, and back and forth they go.
  4. To be successful, each team needs to return the ball each time it lands in their court and play within the lines (the guidelines and timelines I will talk about later).

The college process for senior year has the same type of back-and-forth action and families with seniors need to do their part to be successful. I will provide general timelines below with that actions that each team is responsible to complete.

Keep in mind that every college will have slightly different timelines. You should use the deadlines section of the free College Search Spreadsheet to keep track of them.


Tip: If colleges provide you with a timeline for their decisions, note them in the College Search Spreadsheet.

Tip: Give all of your references a one-paragraph bio and a copy of your resume. Also, don’t be shy about asking them to write about certain qualities or achievements that you want highlighted. For example, let them know that you work 20 hours/week during the school year and that you would like them to mention your hard work or dedication if they find it appropriate.


Tip: You can use the SAI in each college’s Net Price Calculator to get a very rough estimate of how much your “out-the-door cost” will be for freshman year.

December 1:

Tip: Make it easy on yourself by tracking the scholarship you apply to (or will apply to) using the free Complete College Advising Scholarship Tracking spreadsheet.

May – June:
July – August:

Keep in mind that the timeline might vary slightly based on individual colleges and your personal circumstances. It’s important to stay organized, meet deadlines, and seek guidance from your high school counselor throughout the process.

Now, go smash senior year like a pickleball champ!