Getting a head start on applying to college the summer before senior year can make the fall and spring less stressful for parents and high school seniors.
High school seniors will need to be prepared for the overwhelming amount of college admissions activities once school begins. Tackling some of those college related tasks now can help ease some of the pressure in the fall. Get ahead of the game and prepare in advance by using this checklist. If you do, parents and seniors should be ready for senior year to begin.
1. Get ready for standardized tests.
The fall standardized tests will most likely be the scores your high school student submits to the colleges. Have you registered for these tests yet? Is he prepared? Has she studied the formulas, done a few practice tests, brushed up on vocabulary and college essay writing skills? If not, August is the perfect time to do some test-prep study in anticipation of taking the last test before applying to colleges. If you determine your student needs help, consider a tutor or online test-prep.
2. Think about people to write recommendation letters.
Teachers are bombarded with recommendation letter requests when school starts. Your student wants to be first in line for those requests so letter writers have enough time to craft a glowing recommendation. Students should have plenty of high school resumes to pass out when asking for the recommendations. The resume will help teachers write a more personal recommendation.
3. Finalize the college list.
If your student is applying early decision or early action, applications must be completed and submitted early in the fall. You will also use the college list when completing the FAFSA. The sooner your student decides, the sooner she can start working on applications. The Common Application is available now for students to begin the application process.
4. Gather materials for the FAFSA.
Gather all your documents to complete the FAFSA early in October. Financial aid is disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis so you want to be first in line for the money. You can find a list of documents you need at the FAFSA site.
5. Discuss money.
If you want to avoid disappointment when admission offers arrive, have the “money talk” before your student applies to colleges. Decide what you can afford, what you will be willing to contribute toward the cost of college, and what you expect your student to contribute. Know what you and your student can afford to pay before applying to colleges.
6. Start working on college essays.
The Common App essay prompts are available for students now. Your student should review these prompts and begin work on college essays now before school begins. August is the perfect time to devote to writing, proofing and editing. Take the time to research some past submissions.
7. Research scholarships.
Many scholarships require students to be seniors in high school. August is an excellent time to search for these specific scholarships and apply. Even if you can afford to pay for college, your student should apply for scholarships. It’s free money and you can use the money you saved on college for retirement instead!
If you need some more in-depth advice, independent advisors are always a good option!