I recently heard this voicemail from one of my students:
“I’ve finished all of my college applications. I’m done, right?”
I could hear the pride and fear in her voice as she asked the question. She was proud that she had completed all of her nine college applications, including essays, short answers, letter of recommendation and resume, and turned everything in on time.
I was also proud of her and would give her a verbal ‘pat-on-her-back and ‘ATTA GIRL!’ when we talked later that day. She was also a bit afraid that there was more that I was going to require her to do. Unfortunately, she was right.
There is a LOT you can be doing now that will support you in getting into your dream school and finding money to pay for it! Here are steps students and their parents can take while waiting for those admission decisions to come in:
1. Complete the FAFSA. If you haven’t already done this, I can’t stress enough the importance of completing this form now. In order to qualify for any type of financial aid, this form must be submitted. While you may have an older brother or sister who went to college and didn’t qualify for any aid, that shouldn’t stop you from filling one out.
Along with changes to your family’s financial circumstances, eligibility for certain types of aid also changes. The national deadline for completing the FAFSA is June 30. However, many states and schools have earlier deadlines. This helps financial aid administrators better determine your award package. Most school and state deadlines occur in either February or March.
2. Keep your grades up. Colleges have every right to ask for your final semester grades and you don’t want your GPA to go down. I have personally known of seniors with a bad case of ‘senioritis’ having their college admission decision revoked because their grades slipped badly. Colleges only want students who will work hard and take their academics seriously; not students who simply skate by.
3. Follow up with the college admission office regarding your application. You want to follow up with an admissions counselor to ensure that they have all the pieces needed to make the best assessment of your qualification for admission. Be careful with this step. NEVER ask if the admissions officer has made a decision about your admission. It could actually hurt your chances of getting in
4. Visit the college(s). Your final college choice decision is due on May 1. Before then, you may be agonizing over which school you will choose. Visiting the school is a perfect way to solidify your decision. If you have applied to schools that you haven’t visited, make sure you visit at least once before you make that all-important decision.
And, don’t feel bad if you haven’t visited yet. With academic and extra-curricular responsibilities, many seniors don’t visit their dream school for the first time until March or April.
5. It’s also a great time to visit a financial aid office. If your family is experiencing unusual financial circumstances that aren’t reflected on the FAFSA, discuss it with a financial aid officer. They can oftentimes make professional judgements that permit you to receive more financial aid to compensate for your family’s circumstances.
6. Apply for Scholarships. Most local and state scholarship deadlines aren’t until the spring of your senior year. Check with your guidance office and apply for any qualifying scholarships you find. Most scholarships only require an application, a transcript and a short essay. My best advice about scholarships is to APPLY, APPLY, APPLY.
Are you nervous about the college process? Do you have a senior who hasn’t even begun? There is still time and I can help. Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-285-1920.