Senior year in high school is a time of choices, changes, and transitions. It’s also a time of hard work, where students aren’t just focusing on the schoolwork at hand, but also getting ready for college. That all starts during their junior year with picking schools to apply to, collecting recommendations, taking tests like the ACT and SAT and sending in applications. But college prep doesn’t end there, rather, it’s just beginning.
Meet with a Guidance Counselor
Getting ready for college, and all the decisions it entails, can be stressful. To alleviate some of that stress and worry, seniors can meet with their school counselor. Not only will this give students a chance to discuss their feelings about going off to college, but counselors can also talk about the different options for school, including whether an associates or bachelors degree would be best for the student and their interests. They can even help students as they start to think of a college major, although there’s still plenty of time for that decision!
Choose a College
The one decision that can’t be held off is which school to attend. Students should weigh their options by considering things like whether they’re better suited for a small, liberal arts school or whether they prefer big campus life at a large university. To help students make the choice, visit college campuses and get to know the town the schools are in.
Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships
With the cost of college continually on the rise, students should do what they can to offset the price tag. For starters, submit a FAFSA, or Free Application for Student Financial Aid, which is required for any sort of financial aid. Make sure to keep deadlines for the application in mind, and the earlier the application is sent in, the better, as funds can get depleted at the state level.
In addition to federal and state aid, also apply to scholarships. A high school counselor can help students find—and apply to—some; many aren’t awarded solely based on academic standing, but also a student’s interests, such as the clubs and sports teams students plan on participating in while at college.
Stay Interested in School
As senior year starts winding down, it’s easy to live in the moment. But don’t let this lead to senioritis, and don’t just take electives. Rather, stay focused and keep your grades up. Some colleges will ask for a final school transcript and can rescind acceptances if grades dramatically fall. But that’s not the only reason to stay invested in school; this is the time to set goals and focus on taking courses that will help a student pursue their interests that will carry over into college coursework.
While summer is a time to get ready for college—between orientations, buying things for your dorm room, and more—it’s also a time to hang out with friends. Live in the moment and enjoy every last moment of your summer, but also look to your future and participate in an internship or a entry-level job in a field that interests you. Plus, balancing your personal and new professional life will be perfect practice for what’s to come at college. After all, once you’re a college student and living away from home for the first time, it’ll be entirely up to you to go to class and do your homework, all while having fun.
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.