When should you finalize a list?

So I will be applying as a freshman applicant for Fall of 2017 as a math major. I’ve been seeing discussion of finalizing a list and I’m no where close to finalizing my list. I haven’t even gotten the results of my May SAT. I’ve only done 2 college visits. Should I speed things up? Am I running out of time?

You aren’t out of time. You need a plan, though. Getting your SATs will help. Visit and plan based on the score you get. Pick a couple of reaches in case you do well if you retake in the fall. Visit based on the May scores. Run net price calculators (on the website) for every school on your list. Work on your Common App info this summer – your Common App essay and build your list of activities & honors if you haven’t got that written down yet.

Okay! When do I lock down a final list?

The end of September, if you can, so that you would be prepared for the option (but not the necessity) of an ED app to a competitive college. However, fully locking down at that point would be counter-productive. Any new ideas/information can and should be considered right until official application deadlines.

If you are narrowing your choices by statistical attributes, an analysis – though reductive – like “The 610 Smartest Colleges” (Business Insider) can save you a lot of time, in that it lists colleges and universities together.

Your final list probably won’t be final till December and will likely depend on essay -writing fatigue.
First, VERY IMPORTANT : talk to your parents about how much they’re willing to invest in your college educztion/how much they want afford from income and savings, each month or each year.
Add 5.5k in loans and 2-3k in work earnings (depending on when you start, how many hours…) for your budget range - minimum is parents’amount, maximum is all three elements combined.
Go to your library or bookstore and get a Fisk Guide and/or Princeton Review 's best colleges, and a Colleges that change lives. Then start reading, putting post it notes on the colleges you like and taking notes in your college notebook (a double page per college).
For each and every college, run the NPC. Each college has its own formula (how they take equity or assets into account, etc.) so you can’t run it once and think you’re good. In addition, some colleges offer merit aid, which varies depending on the College (and how your stats compare to the students they want to attract).

By the end of June, you should have two safeties - schools you like because they share characteristics with your favorite schools but are easier to get into (40-50%acxeptznce rate, and you’re solidly in the top 25% applicants) and for which you’ve run the net price calculator and determined they’re affordable. It’s okay to have more than two safeties, especially if you need merit aid. Your flagship 's honors college (or, depending on your stats and state, local/regional public universities ’ honors programs) is a good one to look into and could’ve a safety ifbit’s got automatic admission/scholarship for stats, otherwise treat as a match or reach depending on honors and overall selectivity.
When you’re done with finding your two safeties, check and see if the application 's up already! Don’t send until you can send an essay (even if the essay 's "optional ".) And start filling out the basics of your common app.
Now we’re in July and you need to find your matches and write your 'general’s common app essay!