Your senior year of high school can seem like a veritable whirlwind. By March, you have likely completed multiple college applications, requested letters of recommendation, sat for the SAT and/or ACT, and written a number of personal statements. While you may believe your work is done, the unfortunate truth is that the remaining spring months can be just as hectic. As you complete this step in your education, reference the guide below to ensure you stay on the right path.
1. Apply yourself
Commit not just to submitting college applications (at this stage, they should be finished), but instead to your second semester classes. An offer of admission is not binding—a precipitous decline in your academic performance can result in the withdrawal of your acceptance letter, so be careful.
2. Complete the FAFSA
You need not choose a school before you address this task. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid determines your eligibility for a number of grants. In certain states, these grants are first-come, first-served, so it is imperative to apply early.
3. Visit prospective colleges
If possible, travel to those schools whose offers of admission you are seriously considering. Here is some great information on how to prepare for a college visit. The opportunity to speak with administration, faculty, and students is invaluable, as is gauging campus factors like location and size. Do not underestimate the importance of “getting a feel” for a university.
4. Research scholarship options
While certain scholarships originate within colleges, some outside organizations also award financial aid. Conduct research according to your academic and extracurricular strengths. Electronic databases are an excellent source of information, as are libraries. Also consider local businesses, as well as unique traits, like left-handedness (really!).
5. Investigate financial aid packages
Examine the grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study opportunities that prospective schools make available to you. These are 6 tips to maximize your search for financial aid. Education is an expensive endeavor, and certain types of financial aid are superior to others. Ensure you receive adequate answers to any questions you may have about these various packages before you decide upon a university.
6. Select a school
Come April or May, you should notify the school you wish to attend that you accept its offer. Often, this involves electronically or physically signing your admissions letter, as well as paying a deposit for your spot in the matriculating class. Certain schools will also ask that you create an online account with them.
7. Notify other programs of your decision
Often, students forego this courtesy out of enthusiasm or exhaustion with the overarching process – do not do the same! Other students who are on the waiting list will thank you for officially surrendering your seat at these other institutions, especially if you do so in a timely manner.
Deciding upon a school is a tremendous, time-consuming decision. After all, you devoted multiple years to developing those strong applications that earned you acceptances. Do something to congratulate and treat yourself on a job well done. As there are many more years of hard work ahead of you, use this chance to take a deep breath and relax.
9. Solidify relationships with instructors
Even after you graduate, your high school teachers can remain wonderful recommenders and resources for future opportunities. To foster a positive relationship with them throughout your post-secondary education, ask for their contact information and genuinely thank them for their guidance during your high school career.
10. Verify your transcript
Make sure your high school transcript accurately reflects the classes you completed and the grades you received. If you earned dual-enrollment credits through a local college, request that transcript as well. Your new home for the next four years will require all final transcripts before the fall semester begins.