FACT: The earlier you apply, the more aid you will get!
If you are a high school senior then you will be graduating sooner than you think. Come next May you will walk the stage, switch that tassel on your mortarboard and high school will officially be over. A couple of months of summer freedom then off you go to college come August. This may sound fun or it may seem scary but either way, it is going to happen. The question is, are you ready?
To get yourself ready, here is a checklist of what you should be doing right now!
1. Pick the colleges you will apply to
If you don't apply to the right colleges, you might get in but you won't get optimal financial aid. Getting in without getting money is like riding a horse without a saddle....you can do it but it's dangerous. Use a great site like CollegeProwler or College360 and pick colleges that are known to reward students with a package just like yours. Then narrow the list down but location, size, and atmosphere. Yep, you will have to visit if you want to make sure a college is a good fit for you.
2. Take your last SAT or ACT
Final ACT is in September and final SAT is in October. If you miss these dates then you are behind! You will need to prep since this will be your last chance to impress a college with your test scores. Use a great tutor if needed and study with a buddy for best results. You will also need to have your scores sent straight from the testing company. No time to have them sent to your home before they go off to the college.
3. Set up college interviews or auditions
If a college has an honors program that you want to participate in. Or if you want to be part of a sport, music, art, debate, math, etc program. Or if you think you have a great college package and should be eligible for merit based scholarships. Then you have to do an interview or audition. Call or email to set up a sit-down chat with either a coach, department head, admissions, or financial aid. Then go make them want you!
4. Keep up your GPA
As you’re working on college applications, remember that your high school grades matter. GPA must stay at 3.8 or better for top aid. And anything below 3.0 can be fatal at many colleges. It is easier to keep your grades up then to try to recover them at the end of a bad semester Remember, even if you’re admitted to a college, if your grades slip too far below from the grades you applied with, colleges are able to rescind your admissions offer. So keep those grades up – you’re not out of the woods yet!
5. Start applications
First start gathering any documents you may need on hand for your college applications. Then decide if you want to use the Common Application or an application on a college's website. Then sit down on a Sunday afternoon and start filling out that app. Yep, it will be a lot of work and it will be confusing at times but it won't get done unless you sit down and do it. Ideally ALL APPS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED BY NOVEMBER 1st!!!!!!!!
If you're having trouble then get help at www.leewayusa.com. Just ask for a Mini Consult and they will "Optimize Your Transcript" so that it has maximum appeal to a college.
6. Start scholarship apps
When you apply to a college, your admissions application will automatically be considered for primary financial aid. But there is a lot more money out there and you will need all you can get. Start by checking on the colleges website to see if they have a "Scholarship Application" or any Supplementals. If so, complete it no later than December 1st if you want priority aid. And trust me. You want priority aid. Then get to work on secondary scho9larship apps and make sure they are all completed by the end of the year. Every college you apply to should include at least one secondary scholarship app if you want the big bucks!