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College Applications and Scholarships

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As you may know, high school serves primarily to prepare students to attend college and if you are a junior or a senior this year then it is time to start thinking about college and a way to pay for it. Luckily for you, there are plenty of people who have gone through or are currently going through this process and this is a guide consisting of some of the best advice for college-bound students.

If you are currently a senior, you should have already started the application process for early admission. Keep doing what you’re doing and when you’re ready, check out the scholarship guide later in this article. However, if you have not already started, most of the application deadlines are in early February so getting started now wouldn’t be an awful idea.

For the juniors, now is a good time to start exploring potential colleges you like and that suit your needs for a future career. Research online, talk to your counselor, talk with friends who have graduated and gone to college, and then get a list of the colleges you find and plan a road-trip over spring break (or early summer vacation) to visit them. This way, you can rule out the ones you absolutely despise and pick your favorites from those that remain. Then, when summer rolls around you can get a head start on applying to those that you liked rather than scrambling to visit them last minute.

College isn’t for everyone, but even if you only have the slightest aspiration to graduate from high school and attend college–create a Common Application account as soon as possible. The Common Application is a program used by a majority of colleges across the nation. It stores all of your personal information, academic history, essays, and letters of recommendation. This is a handy tool because once you have it filled out you can just select which colleges you want the application sent to. Colleges that aren’t using the Common Application often use a program like it and you’ll need to put in the same information which can take time so it’s a good idea to get started as soon as possible.

After applying to college there comes the task of finding a way to finance it. Everyone should fill out the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) which is a requirement if you wish to apply for financial aid or get a federal loan; even some scholarships ask for it in order to be considered. This is just a good thing to have in your back pocket.

Another form of financing college is through scholarships. There are a lot of scholarships out there and even the small ones add up quick. A great place to start looking is the College Planning page on the school website which is constantly updated with new scholarships and is packed with tons of other information regarding financing and applying for college.

If you are looking out of state for colleges then you may be able to use the WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) which can get you a reduced tuition rate at many out of state colleges.

The last important item is standardized testing such as the SAT or the ACT. Most colleges will accept either one but there are some that prefer one so be sure to check. It is a good idea to take both so that you may use the best score. Your scores will be looked at with your GPA and used to see if you qualify for merit scholarships. The higher your GPA and test scores the more money you could get. Taking the test multiple times is a good idea because usually the scores will get better as you get used to it. Be sure to get started early; try one around the end of the year when you’re a junior and then one or two more times before summer.

The best thing to take away from this is that it never hurts to start early. It will save a lot of time and stress if you plan it out and give yourself plenty of time. Be sure to use the resources available at the school through the College Planning center and talk to your counselors if you get lost along the way.

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College Applications and Scholarships