Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Eight Reminders for Your College Applicants

By:  Patrick O'Connor  Ph.D

Now that the calendar has turned to a new year, seniors are turning their attention to
graduation.  It’s easy to see why, since the end of high school includes so many exciting activities—but it’s also important to make sure students are doing what they need to do to make sure graduation happens on time.

This is especially true for seniors who have applied to college.  Most of them assume all that’s left for them to do now is wait to hear back from their colleges.  That may be true for some, but more and more colleges are reaching out to students with all kinds of requests and reminders.  Here’s a list you may want to share with your seniors, so the logistics of applying to college stay on track.

Make sure you’re graduating.  Colleges don’t care about gym credits; your high school might.  Now is the time to make sure you’re really going to be done with high school this spring.  Ask your counselor one last time.

Check your email regularly, including the spam filter.  Email may seem like old news to you, but it’s the way most colleges still reach out to students.  This is how you’ll know if your application is incomplete, if there’s a housing deposit due, or if there’s a scholarship you could qualify for.  Check email three times a week, and include a search of your spam filter—you never know what you might find.

Complete the FAFSA and other financial aid forms.  Getting into college is great; being able to pay for it is even better.  Many states have a February 1 or February 15 deadline for state aid, and almost all colleges won’t give you any aid without a FAFSA. Take the time to fill out the form, and check with your counselor on resources that can help.

Notify colleges of schedule changes.  It might be fine with your parents if you drop AP History for History of Pizza, but your colleges may see that move differently.  You promised your colleges—including the ones that have already admitted you—you’d keep them informed of any changes.  If you have a new schedule, you owe them an email.

Notify colleges of disciplinary changes.  This is also true if you’ve had a run-in with the school’s code of conduct since you applied to college—if you’ve been suspended, put on probation, or received some other discipline at school, you likely have to report it to all your colleges.  Talk to your counselor to make sure, and to find out the best way to handle this.

Review your admission packets.  You have until May 1 to submit an enrollment deposit at any college that’s admitted you, but some colleges require you to pay housing deposits or sign up for orientation sooner than that.  Now’s the time to re-read your admission materials, making sure you’re staying in touch with your schools.

Stay in touch with the counseling office.  The college you end up attending is going to want a final transcript, and that’s usually sent by your counselor.  Make sure you know how, and when, to let them know where you’re heading, or enrolling to college will be impossible.

Finish strong.  The best way to be college ready is to keep sharp in your high school classes.  It’s also the best way to make sure your grades don’t dive, which could lead colleges to decide maybe you aren’t all that serious about learning after all.  There’s room for senior fun and great grades; do both.

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