It’s now time for the third and final installment of the College Process Trilogy! Huzzah!
Actually, one of the reasons I wanted to do this three-part spectacle was to include information about this step specifically. It feels like limbo. There are lot of things to do between getting accepted and going to school. Unfortunately, this step varies drastically between each school. Therefore, I’m going to paint with some pretty broad strokes here.
- Make your decision. Another one of those things that’s easier said than done, right? Of course. For some people, the choice is obvious. Some people are still weighing their options. This is a top priority, though. Make sure to refer back to your list of top schools.
- Notify the other schools you applied to. If you’ve made up your mind, be glad! Be proud! Scream it from the mountain tops. Actually, don’t. But do tell the other schools. This is for a couple of reasons. First, they’ll continue to send you information that can be fairly annoying. Also, your acceptance could be hindering someone else – others might be sitting on a wait list until you notify the school you won’t attend, thereby freeing that spot for others. It’s simply the courteous thing to do and a simple email to the admissions office will suffice.
- Contact your school with questions. Better yet, they’ll contact you for anything noteworthy, such as scheduling, registration, important dates and fees, or rooming info. They know you’ve never done it before and they’ll help you. Every school is different, so you just have to keep track of what they give and tell you about how it works there. My typical organization method is by using post-it notes and random jotted memos on dry erase boards, as well as keeping every piece of mail my school has sent to me. I recommend setting up a binder or folder to keep track of everything because it will be helpful to just be able to whip out the proper information for each question that arises. Anyway, it’s limbo-ish but it’s like that for a reason. Don’t worry about it, you won’t fall behind. None of your peers know what they’re doing either. But in my experience, everyone has been eager to help make it a smooth process. Even when there are hiccups, I can always find the answers on my school website or by emailing the proper office. This step continues from the minute you apply to the minute you get to school. There’s a lot of information to give out and the colleges need a lot of things from you before school starts. They are certainly not going to do it all at once – there’s simply too much to know and do, so this is usually staggered through the spring and summer.
- Look for scholarships. I definitely recommend doing this immediately. Look for them within the school you’ll be attending. There are probably financial awards for random things – everything from having a parent who is an alum to being a Business major might offer a bit of money. Also, you can look online for scholarships of all sorts. And definitely keep an eye out in your community. Local banks, Masonic and Elks lodges, families, churches, and businesses offer various awards. Mark my words: every little bit helps. Those $200 or $500 scholarships really stack up. It can be time consuming, but it’s worth it. I am very glad to have applied for so many scholarships – and am even happier to have received so many! Hint: in some cases, perhaps especially at smaller schools, very few students will apply for some of the local scholarships and that gives them fantastic odds of receiving it. Don’t be discouraged if you are not awarded many scholarships or any at all. There are lots of other forms of financial aid. Grants and loans are huge helps and they can be quite viable. This brings me to the next big idea…
- The FAFSA. Everyone’s least favorite thing ever. Do this as soon as humanly possible. There is a deadline, which I believe is typically around April 1st. Here are some tips.
- If applicable, make sure your transfer credits will work. Send the necessary transcripts from your dual enrollment or send your AP scores. I’m unsure on IB credits, but I know the AP exam offers an option on the exam day to send your scores straight to the school, rather than sending them later for a cost. If you’re certain of your school choice by May, be sure to fill out this part of the AP exam booklet!
- Finish strong. Retake the ACT if you could qualify for better scholarships and feel you can improve your score. Fight senioritis. Keep your grades up. Don’t drop the extracurriculars. Continue to challenge yourself – schools can easily take away your scholarships if it’s clear you did not follow through on your greatness until the end. Keep it up! Once again: relax. The hard part is over. Now just try to keep track of your information, financial awards, and academic record. I know you’ll do great!
Bonus tip: I kept a few mantras throughout my whole senior year to keep me motivated (Just keep truckin’, keep your hopes up high and your head down low, and the best way out is always through.) Be your own cheerleader! And recruit your family and friends if need be! I know it’s a stressful time but it ends eventually. And it’s a happy ending!
As always, thank you for reading!
Have you already finished this whole process? Have two cents to add? Are you still somewhere within this process and hoping for more information? Please share your wisdom, insight, questions, and concerns in the comments below! Let’s start a conversation!