High School Juniors and College Planning

Spring has sprung and it is a beautiful time of the year! It is also a great time of the year for high school juniors to begin the college planning process! Being proactive and organized will serve you well as you move forward and plan for college! There are many things that high school juniors can and should do beginning in the Spring of their Junior year to best prepare for the college admissions process.

Below we have highlighted some important action items for college bound high school juniors related to the college admissions process:

  • Attend a college fair! Large and small college fairs occur all throughout the Spring and provide a handy opportunity for college bound high school juniors to meet with admissions representatives from participating colleges, ask questions, and collect valuable information from colleges. Most fairs are free to the public and many also offer the opportunity to attend informational sessions related to the admissions process and college financial aid process at the college fair. A great opportunity to gain knowledge and insights into the entire college process.
  • Visit college campuses to get a feel for schools you may be interested in attending! Students should visit as many college campuses as possible so that you get a sense of what size college you will be most comfortable attending. There are two ways to approach college visits! One way is more informal; this is when you may just pop in on a campus and look around. Many college campuses are open to the public, thus if you are driving by a college campus you can always stop in. Pick up a catalog at the Admission Office, drive through the campus, or park and take a walk and visit the student center or another busy area on campus. It is a great way to get a feel for the campus, especially when college is in session. One can also make an appointment for a formal campus tour. Typically, one will need to contact the Admissions Office in advance and sign up for a tour at a specified time. This is a nice opportunity to meet with an admissions representative or student guide who will provide a more formal overview of the college and a tour. Be sure to prepare beforehand so that you can ask questions and gather as much information as possible.  See this article on planning for the college campus visit which gives some pertinent tips and helpful information.
  • Standardized tests are still required by many colleges and universities in the United States. High school Juniors should plan on taking either the SAT or the ACT or both during the Spring of their Junior year. Information on these standardized tests can be found on The College Board’s website and on the ACT website and both provide. You will be able to register for these tests online.
  • Think about who you will ask to write Letters of Recommendations for you to submit as part of your admissions applications during your senior year.  Although you won’t complete these applications until senior year, high school juniors should think about who they will ask well in advance of admission deadlines. Most colleges require at least one letter (many two) of recommendation from an academic teacher, so put some thought into who you will ask and give that teacher a heads up. If you know of a teacher or counselor who is retiring at the end of the school year, be sure to ask them for a letter prior to leaving for the summer. Students should ask teachers who know them well and can write about not only their academic strengths but also speak to their personal values and contributions.
  • Search for scholarships! Many foundations, businesses, associations, clubs, and civic organizations have scholarship monies available. Searching for scholarships is time consuming and tedious but can result in obtaining money for college – money that does not need to be paid back! Searching for outside scholarships is a separate process from the college financial aid process and should be taken seriously. Lots of great information on searching for scholarships can be found in the following articles: Outside Scholarship Searches, Beware of Scholarship Scams, Outside Scholarship Considerations, BLOG Post – Scholarship Search Guidelines, BLOG Post – Scholarship Search Scams, and Scholarship Tips. Hope this information is helpful as you embark on the important scholarship search! For more information on scholarships searches and tracking worksheets, see Financial Aid Sense.
  • Research financial aid options and familiarize yourself with the process. Financial aid is available, however, there are many important details about the financial aid process that you should be aware of. Missed deadlines can jeopardize financial aid eligibility, thus it is important to be aware of what is required. In addition, the process can be very confusing. Financial Aid Sense is a newly updated financial aid publication that helps families navigate through the financial aid and college financing processes and shares numerous tips about how to stay on track and manage the process. Don’t miss out on financial aid opportunities! Learn what you need to do today to apply for financial aid!

Best of luck in your college search! Let us know at Financial Aid Sense if we can be of any assistance!

 

 

 

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