Preparing for College: By your senior year of high school, any preparation you’ve done for college can ramp up to what feels like a frenzy. However, as long as you stay organized, you should be able to stay on top of things and keep moving toward your ultimate goal: attending the college that is right for you. In addition to making sure you take any necessary standardized tests, you should get your applications in on time, consider your financial situation and make your final choice.
Fill Out Applications
If you haven’t been researching colleges during your sophomore and junior years of high school, it’s time to do that. Try to visit campuses although this isn’t always possible if the school is far away. Be organized with your applications. They cost time and money, so you should only apply to the schools you are serious about attending. Most people like to have both a dream school and a safe school in the mix. Be sure that you pay attention to requirements and deadlines. If you need recommendations from teachers or others, ask for them sooner rather than later.
Plan for Funding
Savings, part-time work, loans, scholarships and grants can all help fund your college education. The first step should be filling out Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which will tell you what need-based loans and grants you may be eligible for. Work-study programs may also be available, but even if you do not qualify, you can get a part-time job on or off campus than can supplement your other funding sources. Some students take out a mix of federal and private student loans. Online lenders and apps can make it easy to compare offers in order to invest in your future. Don’t neglect researching and applying for scholarships as well.
Choose Your School
Unless you are planning to go into a very specialized field of study that substantially limits your choice of school, you might feel overwhelmed as you try to make your final selection. It’s important to take academics into account, but you should consider other criteria as well. Among these are the size and setting of the school. If you’re coming from a small high school, you might want your university experience to be similar, or you may crave being around a much larger population. Whether setting is urban, suburban or rural can also affect what your experience is like. Another thing to look at is the culture of the school. Do you want to be around students who are very business- or career-oriented, or do you prefer a more artsy environment? Whether or not most students live on or near campus or commute can also have a significant effect on the overall college experience.
Keep Your Grades Up
If you’ve already applied, been accepted to the college of your choice, you might be tempted to slack off during second half of your senior year. This can be a mistake since these grades may still affect your scholarship eligibility. You may also be taking subjects, such as calculus, that have important principles you’ll need to master so you can build on them in your more difficult college courses.