The college process is stressful to say the least. On top of getting in your actual application there’s getting recommendation letters, taking the SATs (sometimes for the third time in a row…), checking your eligibility for financial aid with the FAFSA, applying for scholarships, and maintaining your grades because YES, your grades are just as important senior year as they were your junior year.
With so many deadlines to meet, this process can seem overwhelming. Here’s your step-by-step guide to navigating this challenging experience.
Junior Year: Get Connected
The very first thing you should do to start your college application process is introduce yourself to your college and career advisor at the end of your junior year. This is a very important connection to make because your college advisor will be the main person who will help you with the college process, whether it’s making your list of colleges to apply to, filling out your application for FAFSA, or writing your college essay.
Summer: Reflect and Write
Over the summer, I finished my college essay which was a huge accomplishment because you have to edit, then re-edit, then edit again, then re-edit AGAIN! I shared my essay with four people. One of those four was my father, and if anyone knows my father, they know how critical and detailed he is. It was the most excruciating process I’ve ever been through in my life.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to start your essay before senior year. If you start at the beginning of your senior year, it’s just another task added onto your list of a million and one things to do.
First Semester Senior Year: Go Time
Once your senior year begins, your first task is to ask the two teachers that you have the best relationships with and who know you personally as well as academically to write letters of recommendation.
Next is actually applying to the schools of your dreams. I personally applied to 13, but the number all depends on you. You can decide to only apply to the schools you would actually be interested in attending, or you can throw in some back-ups just in case you don’t make it into your top choices. Regardless of how many schools you apply to, make sure to log them all on College Board, a magical website where you can add the list of schools you are applying to to keep you on track with all the deadlines.
In addition to sending in each school’s application, you also have to send your SAT scores. It is always a good idea to send your SAT scores, especially if your grades aren’t the best. If you feel as though your grades don’t accurately represent your work ethic you should be sure to send your test scores to show that your grades don’t define the type of student that you are.
Lastly, scholarships, scholarships, scholarships. Yes, FAFSA is a great help, but the more money the better. Scholarships are a great way for you to obtain even more funds to help pay for your education.
Second Semester Senior Year: Cross Your Fingers
After applying, you will be in the state of limbo in which you will be awaiting your acceptance and rejection letters. Unless you applied to the early deadline on November 1, you will be waiting until the spring for your letters to come in the mail. During this time you need to focus on your school work, because contrary to popular belief, your grades senior year are important. Colleges still look at your grades, and if you try to slack, you may get your acceptance taken away from you.
In the end choosing a college will determine where you will spend the first four years of your adulthood. Make the best out of wherever you go and work as hard as you can. No one can choose your path for you, so make sure that you choose the school that you love.