Two years ago our daughter started her Senior year of high school. We knew it was going to be a busy year getting through high school and preparing for college but we REALLY HAD NO IDEA just how busy it would be! There is so much to do. You just want to savor this last year with your child, but the to-do list is all consuming. Before you know it you’re sending them out your door and leaving them on the doorsteps of their dorm at college. With some early planning, you can make the Senior year a little, just a little, less stressful. So let’s talk about how to prepare for college while in high school.
Start Junior Year
Begin researching colleges- Start exploring and find colleges of interest. Use the internet, your counselors, and friends already at college. Start a comparison list that includes tuition fees, residence, location, campus details, clubs of interest etc. If your child thinks they know their major seek out schools with the best programs in this field.
Take ACT and SAT standardized tests- You want to take these tests your Junior year. This will allow you time to re-take the tests should you feel you need to improve your scores. Remember that your score determines what schools will look at you and further determines the merit/aid they will offer you.
Summertime Intern Or Charity- Spend time this Summer volunteering or working in the area of interest to you. You will include this reference and experience on your college applications. It will be a benefit that shows your passion and motivation for your field.
Apply for early scholarships- There are scholarships available for application your Junior year. It doesn’t hurt to get a jumpstart on any potential help to pay for your education.
Draft your statement or essay- The Summer between Junior and Senior year is the time to start drafting your personal statement, essay, and application details. The application process will be much easier if you have something drafted ahead of the Senior rush and crunch time. Include parent’s information such as employer and contact numbers on this list.
Tour Campuses- Touring the campuses of interest to you before your Senior year is another time saver. It also helps you determine your list to apply to Senior year.
Apply to your colleges of interest- Deadlines vary by school and state. Pay close attention to deadlines. Apply to one school a week or every other week to spread the process and make it easier on your already demanding schedule. This should start in September and be completed by February. I personally like to be finished by November, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow for this.
Apply for FAFSA October 1st- FAFSA is Free Application for Financial Student Aid. You can read all about it in my post What Is FAFSA And Should You Complete An Application? You really should complete an application if your child is even thinking of enrolling in college. You won’t know what’s available to you if you don’t apply. Nearly every student is eligible for some form of aid. There are many factors considered in the formula to determine eligibility. Financial Aid is not solely based on parent’s income, contrary to popular belief. The FAFSA is not just an application for federal grants. It includes federal student loans and federal work study funds along with a few other possible resources.
Apply for scholarships- Apply for as many scholarships as you can possibly handle. Some are quite easy while others are very time consuming and more involved.
Maintain your grades- Don’t slip here. This year still counts.
Take final tours- Take a tour of the final two or three colleges you are accepted to and considering. This will assist you in making your decision.
This is a very exciting time in life. Be as prepared and organized as you can to help eliminate stress.
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