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for Getting Ready to Go to College
Expert Advice provided by Scholarship
So you're planning to go to college once you finish high school,
right? But are you really ready?
college is a two-year process. And unless a rich uncle is going
to write that $30,000 check for you, it is going to involve acquiring
and submitting financial aid forms, scholarship applications,
and grant applications. But don't despair. By following the suggestions
below, and by carefully monitoring the process, you should be
buying college textbooks before you know it. Keep in mind, however,
that this is a process; it isn't like taking one test and getting
an A. It requires diligence, double-checking, and follow-up.
When you are a high school JUNIOR:
- Take the SAT and/or ACT...this is a must.
- Keep your grades up! Remember that colleges look at your
entire high school academic record when making admissions
decisions: what you do in 9th through 11th grade is just as
important as what you do as a high school senior.
- Consider college options. Decide what is important to you:
Location? Curriculum? Size? Diversity? Athletics? Social life?
- Keep an eye on your local papers and community bulletin
boards for college nights and open houses; talking to representatives
at college fairs is a great way to find out about the colleges
you are considering.
- Research your scholarship and grant options. Utilize the
best customized scholarship search service available on
the Internet, ScholarshipExperts.com.
You just can't mimic their resources yourself; they will save
you time and headaches, and help you avoid scams.
- Send away for scholarship information and applications with
early deadlines. It's never too soon to do so since some scholarship
and grant applications need to be received in the fall of
your senior year.
- Make an effort to be involved in your community or in extra-curricular
activities at school.
- Join a club, do a service project, sign up for a committee
at your church. Admissions officers and scholarship providers
will want to see evidence of your leadership and commitment
to service when they review your applications next year.
In the FALL of your SENIOR year:
- Select the colleges that interest you most, as soon as you
enter your high school homeroom. Don't delay. Send away for
information and applications; be sure to check out web sites
for information you can obtain online.
- Sign up to re-take the SAT or ACT. Buy a study guide or
sign up for a test prep course to take before the actual test
date. Believe it or not, you CAN improve your test scores
by taking them a second time, and better scores could affect
your ability to get scholarships!
- If possible, visit any colleges you can. Find out when there
are prospective student activities or if you can sign up to
"shadow" an existing college freshman.
- In September (and then once each month thereafter), search
for scholarship opportunities using the premiere online
Take time to fill out the entire profile on the site, making
sure to ask your parents about their work experiences and
association/union memberships for optimal results.
- Pay attention to early admission deadlines. By October or
November, submit applications for early decision programs.
- Attend a financial aid presentation. These are offered at
schools, libraries, and college campuses.
- Narrow your list of intended colleges, and make sure you
have all the financial aid forms required by each school.
Required documents may not be the same at each school, so
pay close attention to what each requires.
- Obtain a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This
should be available in January, and it is very important.
Call 1-800-4-fed-aid; the online address is http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The FAFSA form can also be obtained from high schools, colleges,
and local libraries.
- Complete and submit the FAFSA immediately (it can be submitted
anytime after January 1st in your senior year). Make a copy
for yourself. Parents should compile income tax information
and complete taxes early.
In the SPRING of your SENIOR year:
- Verify that you have submitted all of your financial aid
forms. The FAFSA must be filled out and sent in between January
1 and March 15 -- get it in early and file it correctly to
avoid delays in funding decisions.
- Be sure to send in your scholarship applications on time;
several scholarships have spring deadlines. Check back regularly
to find even more awards during the spring and summer months;
you should update your profile each month to generate new,
customized award lists.
- Verify that you have received your Student Aid Report (SAR);
it should arrive about 4 weeks after you have submitted your
- Compare financial aid packages when you receive admissions
notifications. Look for the best rather than the most.
- Finalize your choice and notify the college.
- Sign and return financial aid forms to the university you
plan to attend.
- Send your final transcript and student loan application.
- Notify the schools whose enrollment offers you decline.
Now celebrate! You are about to enter one of the most amazing
times of your life, and one that will change you forever. Make
the most of your college experience, and remember to study.
It is important to maintain your GPA so that you can maintain
your scholarships throughout your college career.
For additional information about this topic, visit www.ScholarshipExperts.com.
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