Preparing for College: Steps You Need to Take
As you approach your senior year in high school, your mind should be filled with thoughts of the future. So, don’t wait until August to start prepping for your college career. Just because it’s senior year, doesn’t mean you can slack on your school responsibilities. This is particularly important for students who have received a scholarship considering the fact your second semester scores still play a part in your eligibility for scholarships. Be sure to keep on being involved with your school as well so your college knows you remain a hardworking, well-rounded student.
Start your school year off with a visit to your guidance counselor or academic advisor. Make sure you’re on track to graduate and attend college. It’s a good idea to double check that you’ve taken or scheduled tests for all standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT. Though you should try to take these tests your junior year, you have a chance to take it or re-take it for a higher score your senior year. Make sure your scores are up to date with what scores your colleges accept. Gather all of your transcripts, letters or recommendation and all your other application paperwork pulled together. Be sure you have everything together and turned in before the dead line.
As soon as your college applications have been sent out, start applying for financial aid. Ask your parents to fill out their tax forms early so you can provide all the information you need for your FAFSA. If your parents haven’t completed these forms, you can also use an informed guess for the amount. The forms open up on the first of January, so you can submit your FAFSA as soon as possible afterward.
The online application is going to be the fastest option and the easiest way for you to make changes. Simply filling out your FAFSA will not be enough if you’re hoping to collect scholarships. Those have a separate application process. Your SAR, or Student Air Report, will be delivered anywhere from three days to three weeks after you submit your FAFSA. This report will show any corrections you need to make to your corrected FAFSA after taxes have been completed. The corrections should be made and sent back as soon as possible.
In the spring, you’ll start to receive acceptance letters! Make sure you visit your prospective college before accepting your offer. It’s also important to closely look at and evaluate your acceptance offers. Check and see what type of financial aid your college is offering you. Stay on top of any and all deadlines for turning in necessary materials. Each school has their own deadlines for accepting their offers and making deposits. But as a general rule, most universities and colleges require responses for the first of May.
Be sure you’re making the most of all of your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Managing your debt and resources requires resources. See what fees can be waived, what scholarships you can ask for and what loans may benefit you most.