Have you ever wished for a simple to-do list that laid out exactly what you needed to do to make applying and getting in to college easier? Well, wish no more: Here’s your season-by-season college planning guide, starting with the summer before senior year.
Lay the groundwork for your college applications.
• Choose colleges: Talk to your counselor, get college guides, research schools and finalize your choices.
• Get organized: Get each school’s application, become familiar with deadlines and requirements and make a master checklist. Minimize the maze by drawing yourself a map.
• Take tests: Chances are pretty good your schools will require the SAT or ACT. Study for it, and take it in the early fall (or late summer).
College looms on the horizon.
• Keep up your senior year grades: Avoid senioritis by mapping out which classes you’ll take.
• Get all the elements of your applications in order (this includes your application essays!): Teacher evaluations, résumés, secondary school reports, essays, transcript – the list is daunting! Pick out teachers to write your evaluations. Work on your résumé. Then, brainstorm, draft and finalize your application essays.
• Think about financial aid: How are you and your parents paying for college? Talk to them and plan your financial future together. Don’t wait for college to cover your tuition with loans and institutional grants. Your college planning should include other avenues fo financial aid. Look for outside scholarships and grants on your own, too!
Time to start getting those applications finalized.
• Follow up on everything: Now’s the time to break out that college planning checklist you did back in the summer and double-check that everything’s been done.
• Finalize your applications: Months of hard work get tied up neatly into one nice application package. Don’t forget to request your transcripts and ACT/SAT scores.
• Get your financial aid in order: Complete the FAFSA, and follow up on all scholarships you’ve applied for.
It’s the home stretch!
• Submit your applications (if you haven’t already): If you’re mailing it in, make sure you have a way of tracking it so that you can see when each college received it. If you’re applying online, keep all confirmation emails so that you can reference them if any problems come up. Don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you with your applications!
• Keep your grades up: Schools will want to see your final grades, and it won’t look good if you traded in you’re A’s and B’s for C’s and D’s.
• Make the big decision: Start looking carefully at where you got in, and how much money you got. If you can, set some time during your spring semester to visit schools. After you’ve analyzed your financial aid package, make your final choice.
Make your decision, send in any required paperwork, submit your deposit and breathe a sigh of relief: You did it! Enjoy your last few weeks of high school, finish your grades off with a bang and make your last summer before college a blast!
Anne Chaconas is the Director of Admissions Counseling for PowerScore Test Preparation (www.powerscore.com). Every year, she answers countless questions about college planning and helps many students get into their top choice schools.