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Old 07-17-2009, 11:18 AM   #1
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Lightbulb College: The Process and Price of Attending

So, no matter if you're a high school freshman or high school senior, it's never too early or too late to get ready for college. Attending is a great way to further your education and secure a desirable job in the future. I have just gotten through this process so I thought I'd share some information and tips of making a higher education obtainable. Please note that this is mainly geared towards students in the United States.

What you can do while you're still in high school:
-For starters, you're going to want grades and activities that look good to get into the college of your dreams. So study instead of party, and sacrifice those video games a couple times a week to join a school club. You may find you meet new friends and gain valuable experience in a group setting. Both grades and extracurricular involvement will help. But don't be discouraged if you started out the year with lousy grades. Colleges actually look for students who can rise above challenges, so you still have a chance to turn things around!

-Start planning now. First think about what you prefer: private vs. public college, small school vs. large school, far away vs. near, etc. Once you narrow it down, you can start researching colleges that meet your needs. Attend college fairs, talk to college admission counselors, and get advice from your high school guidance counselor. There are always people out there who want to help you find the right fit for you.

-Get an idea of what you'd like to major in. By no means do you have to know what you're doing with your life as soon as you start college. However, getting a general idea will help. Take a variety of different courses in high school to expand your interests and eliminate subjects you dislike. Check out the majors and minors offered at various colleges. It's better to have a major of interest because when you apply for scholarships or college admissions, "Undecided" gets a little tiring to say over and over again.

-Apply for scholarships. Some contests allow people as young as 13 to enter. This will give you a head start in funding your future. For local scholarships, ask your guidance counselor for information. But for national or state contests, you can check out some scholarship search sites. They allow you to fill out a profile about yourself and applicable scholarships you can enter are matched with the profile. Here are some suggested sites to register for (the best ones I have found):
Fastweb
Scholarships.com
Scholarship Experts
Cappex
Zinch

Please note that you can apply for scholarships during your college years and even beyond to graduate school if you choose to attend. And many colleges offer specific scholarships based on academics, sports, and other achievements. There are many opportunities out there! You just need to look.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:18 AM   #2
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

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.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

WOW!!! Very good!


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Old 07-17-2009, 11:20 AM   #4
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

Wonderful<3
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:39 PM   #5
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

There should be something like this for British users.
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:12 AM   #6
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

^^^^^ and irish
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Old 08-09-2010, 06:40 PM   #7
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

Sure, all of the countries!
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:28 AM   #8
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Re: College: The Process and Price of Attending

this was a pretty decent summary of the general process. a few things i would add/emphasize: pay attention to the deadlines you're working with. you want to give yourself ample time in each part of the process, and secondly, i would highly recommend going through local channels to get extra $$ for school (local businesses, or if you live near the headquarters of a national corporation for instance--a regional bank, food processing company, whatever). websites like fastweb often put you in competition with too many other students (one application vs. 100+ others, some maybe even 500-1000+ no exaggeration, for too limited prizes). once you've narrowed down the colleges you are applying to also, most have an automatic merit/need scholarship selection; however, oftentimes, they also offer other scholarships that require a separate application with its own requirements and deadlines. in any case, common application is highly recommended in condensing the process (if you can)!
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