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A Final Checklist to Prepare for College

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Graduation is approaching and seniors are amped up for all the festivities and the celebrations. It goes without saying that students should order their gaps and gowns, invitations and thank you notes. Families will be making plans for graduation parties and picking out graduation gifts.

But there are many other tasks seniors should do before and after graduation to prepare for the future and making the transition to college.

1. Send in your deposit and apply for college housing

First things first—by now you should have sent in your deposit to your final college choice and applied for dorm housing. The national decision deadline is May 1st and there are no exceptions or do-overs. If you are even one day late, you may forfeit your place in their freshman class.

2. If you have chosen to defer, complete the necessary paperwork

If you have already decided to defer, contact the college and make sure that is an option. Most colleges will allow students to defer their admission for a year if they ask. But you must ask. Be sure to ask if you need to sign an agreement or make a deposit to hold your spot for next year.

3. If you are taking a gap year, finalize plans.

Gap years are becoming more popular among students and many colleges are even encouraging them. Take time to plan your gap year and have a clear purpose in mind. Whether you choose to travel abroad, stay home and work, or explore careers, it’s a good idea to finalize those plans before graduation.

4. Attend “Accepted Students Day” and register for orientation.

If at all possible, attend the college’s accepted student day. Colleges encourage students to attend to familiarize themselves with the college, meet other students, and use this event to make their final decision. Later, after you have accepted an offer of admission, you should try to attend college orientation. Don’t forget to register for this important event.

5. Consider a summer college program.

Many colleges offer summer pre-college or community service programs. Investigate the college you will be attending and ask if there are any programs in your area of interest or your intended major. Colleges like Brown University offer a wide variety of programs from academics to adventure.

6. Write thank-you notes.

Don’t forget to write thank-you notes to your teachers, tutors and those who mentored you or wrote recommendation letters. It’s the polite thing to do, but it also has added benefits. These people may be able to recommend you for a job in the future or give you a glowing recommendation when you are interviewing for internships or jobs during college.

7. Polish your resume.

Start with your high school resume and create a resume you can use for summer job interviews and/or internships. Your resume summarizes your accomplishments, job history and work ethic. When applying for a job, look at the job description carefully and consider what your prospective employer is looking for and tweak your resume to meet the requirements.

8. Keep searching for scholarships.

Even though you are graduating and have received your financial aid package, you should keep applying for scholarships over the summer all throughout college. Scholarship searching and applying is never a waste of time. Every penny you win is one less penny you must repay after graduation.

9. Get a summer job.

You are most certainly going to need spending money in the future. You will need it during freshman year of college, during your traveling gap year, or while working at an internship. Since you will most likely be living at home, a summer job can be a substantial boost to your savings. Three months or more of income can provide you with months of spending money and ease the financial burden on your parents.

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Written by Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parents Countdown to College Coach blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

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