Your senior year of high school is a very exciting time. Whether you’re in the classroom or schooling from home, the finish line is in sight! Soon you’ll be starting a new and very important chapter in life. Before you get too carried away though, it’s important to remember that you’re not done yet. Your final year of high school is the most crucial time in the college planning process. This fall there are a few things you can do to ensure a smooth transition if you have plans to attend college next year:
Retake the ACT/SAT
Many seniors retake the ACT and/or SAT at least once during the fall. Make sure to sign up early and create a calendar of dates to keep yourself on track. This is your last opportunity to increase your scores – make it count!
Complete the FAFSA
The FAFSA is key if you’re looking to apply for student financial aid, whether in the form of scholarships or student loans. It only takes a few minutes to fill out. Learn more about the FAFSA application process at: https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid
Narrow down your list of colleges
You’ve probably been looking at a number of colleges, trying to decide which ones are right for you. Now is the time to narrow the list of 3-5 potential colleges of choice. Narrowing down your options helps you find which colleges meet your criteria and makes it easier to manage your application materials. During this time of social distancing due to a global pandemic, consider exploring whether your schools of choice offer virtual options to help you learn more about the institution, such as a virtual campus tour or a video conference with a college ambassador.
Ask for letters of recommendation
Some college applications require letters of recommendation. These can come from advisers, teachers, coaches, or other adult figures in your life. Make sure to check if the college you’re applying to requires this! Don’t wait until the last minute and scramble to find someone willing to write a letter for you. Ask for letters early and remember to send a thank you when completed.
Apply for scholarships
College is an investment, and it can be expensive! Scholarships are a great way to help you finance your education. Check with your college’s financial aid office, talk with your high school advisers, and search scholarship databases to find which scholarships you are eligible for. The U.S. Department of Education scholarship page is a great resource to start with.
Start applications early
Most colleges have deadlines when applications must be completed by, with most regular decision deadlines falling sometime in January. Don’t wait until December to start working on your applications. Take the time this fall to start completing your applications, well before the deadlines. Make sure to check if your school accepts the Common App – it could save you countless hours!
At first glance it can seem overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time you will be on track for success. And remember to reach out to teachers, advisers, parents, and other trusted adults for support if you need any advice or help. You’ve got this!