PLANNING FOR COLLEGE CHECKLISTS

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10 College Application Tips

 

Applying to college is a butterflies-in-your-stomach, full on anxiety-laden adventure for both parents and high school students. There are so many aspects to consider – which colleges to apply to, which major to pursue, how to pay for it all. Adding to the stress is keeping up with all the information. Which school needs an additional recommendation letter? When is the deadline for scholarships at another school? Where is that list of volunteer activities and hours? To help ease your mind here are 10 College Application Tips to get you and your high school student through the chaos and stress.

 

10 College Application Tips

 

  1. Start compiling a list of activities during the freshman year of high school. Keep a list of all activities, employment, volunteer activities and hours, honors, and leadership throughout high school. Your child will need this information for the writers of recommendation letters, as well as college and scholarship applications. The Planning for College Planner is a great place to record this information.
  2. Invest in SAT/ACT prep. Each point on one of those tests can be the difference in thousands of dollars in merit aid at some schools.
  3. Start writing the essays early! The essays are the hardest part of the applications. The essays prompts for the Common Application do not change significantly from year to year. A junior in high school can get a head start by working on the available prompts and then tweaking their essays to fit after the prompts are released.
  4. Apply Early Action if your top school choices offer it and if your SAT/ACT scores and your GPA are ready to be evaluated. It will get the applications out of the way early in the senior year and let you know whether you are accepted earlier.
  5. File your FAFSA as early as you can. The FAFSA is available on October 1st of each year. At many schools financial aid and merit scholarships are processed in the order in which the FAFSA (and other scholarship applications) are received. See How to Complete Your FAFSA for more information.
  6. Read every tiny detail in the application instructions and follow them to the absolute letter.
  7. Proofread, proofread, proofread all applications and essays. Have more than one person proofread everything before finally hitting the “submit” button.
  8. Stay organized. Compile a binder of all of your information, so that everything is in ONE PLACE. The Planning for College Planner is a downloadable (or coil bound) system for organizing EVERYTHING YOU NEED to get from the freshman year of high school to the freshman year of college.
  9. Have you figured out how you are going to pay for college? Have the heart to heart with your child early about what is possible and what is only possible with financial aid and scholarships. The Complete Guide to Paying for College can help you with this discussion.
  10. Get help when you need it. Whether it is reading essays or getting the answers to questions from a school, do not be afraid to ask. College counselors love it when the applicant emails to ask questions. (Of course, don't over do it.) Every time your student makes contact with the school it is called “demonstrated interest” and is a small factor in acceptances because the schools want to accept the most interested students.The most interested students are most likely to enroll.

 

 

There is no doubt college application season is stressful. (We are currently in the throws of it with our youngest child and I will be so relieved when the submit button is pushed and we can move on to enjoying her senior year.) Try to keep the process in perspective. Apply to enough schools so that you know there will be some choices for where to attend, but not so many that you are throwing application fee money out the window to schools your child has no intention of actually attending. It's going to work out! Take some deep breaths, pray, and get those applications in! Following these 10 College Application Tips will help you on the journey.

PLANNING FOR COLLEGE CHECKLISTS

Get your FREE copy of the Planning for College Checklists - Junior Year, Summer Before Senior Year, Senior Year, FAFSA, CSS-Profile, Scholarships, Dorm Shopping, Packing for the Move, and the Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

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