Applying and Beyond
So if you're an upperclassman in high school, you may be wondering about the application process. Here is some advice for smooth sailing.
-Apply to all colleges you are considering, and start early so you're not rushing to meet deadlines. Some programs and scholarship eligibility have strict dates you must apply by to be considered. It's better to make sure you're in, and you have your options open. Visit the schools you're interested in to get a feel for the campus life. Do you believe you can be happy here for four years?
-Follow instructions! Fill out the admission application carefully, whether it be a hard copy or an online app. Many colleges today are preferring online, but it will be up to you to find out if your college is okay with that. Leave spaces blank that you are told not to fill out, and fill out spaces you are supposed to with accurate information. Don't forget to send in the application fee if there is one. See your guidance counselor for information on fee waivers if you're worried about the cost. Some colleges require a teacher recommendation, ACT or SAT scores, and other documentation. Keep a checklist of what you'll need and you'll stay more organized.
-The admissions essay: what do I do?! The essay is something you can control, whereas the application you couldn't. Be yourself without getting too informal and be creative. If there is a topic, stick to it and don't stray. Say something interesting about yourself that the admission staff might want to know. Uniqueness is always an asset to the student body. But whatever you do, do NOT forget to run spell check and revise the essay. Have another person look over it to catch any errors you missed. You don't want the staff thinking you're careless or just wanted to apply for another college quickly.
-Fill out the FAFSA
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid) starting January 1st of your senior year in high school. It's an opportunity everyone should take in order to receive helpful grants and loans from the government. Even if you think your family makes too much money per year to get aid, you should still apply for the FAFSA just in case. Make sure to fill this out ASAP, or your potential aid for college could be in jeopardy.
-Compare financial aid packages. Once you receive your financial aid statuses from every college you applied to, start weighing the facts. You will want to attend the college that offers the most aid, but it's also important that school fits your wants and needs in a college. So spend some serious time thinking about what is most helpful, and what you want most.
-Once you've chosen a college, be sure you're updated on upcoming events, such as orientation, and be aware of any new student fees that may be sent. Meet other new students and chat with current ones by joining Facebook groups or visiting school for special events. I recommend buying a hanging files folder to organize your sudden rush of important papers. Organize by category, such as High School (includes diploma and any transcripts), Financial Aid, 1st Year, etc.
I hope this article helped.
Feel free to ask anything that hasn't been mentioned or explained in detail here.