Going to college improves earning potential and career satisfaction. To find the most appropriate schools and the best sources of financial aid, keep the following in mind.
Research academics and dorm life. Be prepared to identify what is important to you--a specific degree, a big city or small-town campus, a college that's close to home or one that’s far away, an atmosphere that's culturally diverse, a school with special recognition, etc.
College can be very expensive, and most students will need financial assistance to afford it. The more information one has about sources of college funding, the easier it may be to attend ones college of choice. Finding out how and where to search for grants, student loans, and scholarships can be extremely time consuming, and often ends with frustration. However, it doesn't have to be. Visit Scholarships.com to conduct a free college scholarship search, and take advantage of the financial aid information available to you at no charge. Begin early, and keep in mind that many scholarship and grant deadlines occur during the early part of a student’s senior year.
Discuss and review your coursework for the upcoming year. Ask your counselor to review your choices and to make sure that they will contribute to your college requirements. Register for the October PSAT. The PSAT qualifies students for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. With a high PSAT and SAT score, good grades, and a recommendation from high school, one may become a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. Finalists qualify not only for academic distinction, but also for scholarships.
Review PSAT test results with a school counselor. Consult with your school counselor about taking the ACT, SAT, or the SAT Subject Tests. Determine which tests are required at your colleges of interest.
Remember to obtain a social security number. If you do not have one, visit the closest Social Security office.
Prepare a preliminary list of colleges to investigate and possibly attend. Visit with a school counselor to discuss your list.
Write to the colleges on the list and ask for catalogues, community activity information, admissions literature and special financial aid options.
Register for the March SAT. Purchase an SAT prep guidebook and consider a prep course.
Check the SAT I, SAT Subject Test, and ACT test dates.
Begin to narrow list of colleges.
Consider summer plans: summer job, summer school, summer course or program at a local college.
Enroll in summer school, a course at a local college, apply for an internship, or work as a volunteer in your field of interest.
Review literature received from the colleges on short list. Pursue other information resources about these colleges. Visit the college's website.
Consider planning visits to colleges during the summer. Inquire about attending an interview. They book up quickly; set them up as early as possible.
Tour colleges and conduct interviews. Include family members or incorporate these visits with family's vacation plans. Plan fall visits, if necessary.
If you go on interviews or visits, don't forget to send thank you notes.
Begin preparation for the application process: assemble portfolios, collect writing samples, draft application essays, and, if applicable, contact the coaches at the college to inquire about athletic scholarships.
Latest College & Financial Aid News
June 2, 2020
by Izzy Hall
College tuition seems to rise every year, but with the potential loss of many incoming and returning students due to the coronavirus, some schools are changing their tune. From cancelling planned tuition increases to introducing programs that waive tuition for in-state students, colleges and universities are trying to retain their current student population while also hoping to attract new students. [...]
May 27, 2020
by Izzy Hall
Across the country, both private and public institutions of higher education have announced that they will be test-optional for students applying to enter school in the fall of 2021. This policy, instituted as a response to coronavirus cancellations of standardized testing dates, comes with the caveat that it would only exist during next year’s round of admissions. But the University of California system has gone in an entirely different direction by announcing that will no longer require the SAT or ACT for all California state applicants. [...]
May 22, 2020
by Izzy Hall
Time to break out the white pants, beach chairs and barbeque sauce! It’s Memorial Day weekend and we’re excited for the (unofficial) start of summer. But there’s still almost a week left of May, and plenty of scholarships to consider before we jump into June. So, enjoy your three-day weekend – and set aside some time to apply to these scholarships. [...]