By now you’ve either made a list of colleges or applied to many colleges on your list. If you haven’t, the time start is now. The one piece of advice we have for students wanting to go to college: Begin early.

 

Prepare ahead. Do your research.

 

Most colleges won’t send Financial Aid Packages until a student is admitted, but you must first apply. This package is an estimate of what you have already been awarded and other options to help you move forward in paying for college. This information is updated by the Financial Aid Office as you receive new scholarships, grants, or aid.

Beginning early means you’ll be better prepared to take advantage of opportunities such as scholarships and grants. The biggest reason you want to begin now is because you may miss out on funds for financing the college of your choice. For example, many scholarship deadlines are in March or April and colleges relay on application materials to determine eligibility.

In addition, we encourage students to register for the SAT or ACT test now for a date in February or March, if you haven’t already. You want to give yourself enough time to complete application requirements or to take the test again in case you don’t meet academic requirements and prepare for alternative acceptance methods such as the Access Program.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

 

Luke 14:28, NIV

If you’re a senior, take steps during winter break to finalize details, so you don’t have to during your final semester as a high school student. By preparing ahead, you’ll be able to be present and enjoy the time you have left.

Checklist:

Freshman
  • Spend some time researching how to prepare for college during your high school years.
  • Make a checklist of items to accomplish each school year.
  • Pay attention to your grades and extracurricular activities.
Sophomore
  • Begin learning about FAFSA and other avenues to pay for college.
  • Ask others who understand the college process for advice.
  • Begin looking at colleges that may interest you.
Junior
  • Make a list of colleges you want to attend and the application requirements.
  • Take a practice SAT or ACT test, so you know what to expect.
  • Begin preparing your college application essays and recommendations.
  • Begin researching scholarships and deadlines.
Senior
  • Apply to the colleges of your choice or complete your application.
  • Register for the ACT or SAT, if you haven’t already.
  • Schedule a campus tour.
  • File a FAFSA.
  • Touch base with your admissions counselor.
  • Begin or finalize scholarship and grant applications.
  • Ask for dorm items for Christmas such as sheets.

Doing these steps over winter break will set you up for success. Planning ahead is your friend when applying to college. Winter break is the best time to research and get prepared to finish the application process in the upcoming semester, especially if you’re senior. Take this opportunity to get started on one of the biggest stepping stones of your life!