Once you’re in high school, the college planning process kicks into high gear. College planning is essentially a long term project with many different parts, but breaking it down into a few simple steps can help you get a grip on what needs to be done. Here are nine general steps in the college planning process.
1. Plan your finances. Determine where you’ll find loans, grants, scholarships. Talk to your parents, guidance counselors and possibly look into professional financial aid help from companies such as Get College Funding.
2. Get good grades throughout high school. Sounds simple enough, but yes, good grades will make all the difference in the world. The tougher the class and the better the grade, the more you’ll shine on your college application.
3. Pursue extra curricular activities. This shows colleges that you will contribute to their community… be it athletics, social clubs, service etc.
4. Select schools. A year prior to graduation, decide what colleges you would like to attend. Choose at least 6 different colleges. The more you apply to, the higher the chances of getting accepted to one or more of your choice schools. When deciding on schools, consider social fit, academic/career goals, admission chances, cost, career help upon graduation, alumni programs, etc. Select schools that best fit your interests and strengths.
5. Visit the schools. Visit during regular school session so you can get a good feel for the type of students and atmosphere on campus. Also, as part of the visit, take the formal tour and also walk around on your own. Be sure to take notes and pictures of various things you see. When you get home, you’ll have notes and pictures from each visit to help you decide which schools to really apply to.
6. Prepare a fantastic application essay. A properly written essay can make you stand out and appear interesting, engaging and charismatic, someone who is different from other students. Two books you can pick up to help you with the essay are:
7. Take the SAT’s or ACTs – or Both. Get your highest score possible by scheduling time to practice practice practice weeks before the big test. ePrep offers both PSAT and SAT prep.
8. Apply to your selected colleges. Apply early, no later than October 31st of the year before you’ll be attending the school. You should apply early because admissions offices get bombarded with last minute applications, and may not have enough time to focus 100% on each of the last minute applications. Getting yours in early looks good and allows the office to weigh your application properly.
9. Get a job or an internship in your future field of study. Spend a few hours a week at a nearby office to see what your line of work will really be like. If you like it, you’ll end up with some good recommendations for your college applications, and some contacts for life after college. If you hate it, at least you wont have spent 4 years studying for something you wouldn’t have liked to make a career out of!