Deciding to go to college is a major decision and can be a stressful time in anyone’s life, whether you’re fresh out of high school or have been in the work force for a few years and a need a change. Fortunately, there is a wealth of helpful information to help make the transition go smoothly, and ensure students and families are ready for college life and a change in atmosphere. So what do you need to do to learn how to get ready for college?
Read on for some great tips to help you prepare for college.
Meet with a Career Guidance Counselor or Admissions Advisor
To start familiarizing yourself with the expectations of college, consider meeting with your school’s guidance counselor or admissions advisor to discuss how that college or university might fit into your future. Most counselors can easily and readily provide you with tons of information regarding college admissions and financial aid procedures, also providing you with plenty of reference materials.
Consider Attending More than One School
Students should conduct thorough research on a variety of colleges before narrowing down their options. Decide what type of university you would like to attend, location, tuition costs, programs offered, and types of extracurricular activities before you make your ultimate decision. There are a variety of resources out there allowing students to search for schools with certain characteristics or academic programs, so take advantage of all the internet has to offer!
Plan Trips to Prospective Schools
If possible, students should schedule visits to prospective schools they are considering attending to gain insight of the college experience at that institution. Most schools offer prospective student orientation tours, with some even letting students sit in on courses to get a feel for what college will really be like. Also, many colleges offer schedule visit days or open houses, so check the schedule of your first-choice school online and a plan a trip!
Complete your Standardized Test Requirements
Most accredited colleges require applicants to submit scores on standardized tests, like the SAT or ACT. If a student receives a low score the first time around, they may need to take the test again to aim for a better outcome. Plan ahead so you have time to retake the SAT or ACT if you don’t do as well as you hoped the first time.
Apply for Financial Aid Early.
All colleges ask students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial need and eligibility for financial assistance. Every year on January 1, a new application comes available, and it’s recommended to apply for financial aid as soon as possible. The FAFSA requires detailed information and a pin number, so if students submit it early they have more than enough time to research various funding resources including scholarships, grants, and student loans. The deadline for submitting the complete FAFSA is March 1st. Mark this date on your calendars!
Apply for as Many Scholarships as Possible.
There are so many scholarships available to all types of students, designed to help pay for the costs of college. No student should pass up the chance of receiving free college funding that never has to be repaid. Many websites offer scholarship listings, so keep looking until you find one that you apply for. There’s definitely one out there for you, so try and find it!
Reserve Dorms and Housing Early.
If you plan to live on campus, you must reserve your choice of housing ahead of time to guarantee availability, a desirable room, or placement with a compatible roommate. Students who want to live in dorms should fill out their roommate applications as honestly as possible to avoid certain conflicts. Many schools go to great lengths to pair students with others with similar interests or living habits. Room reservations commonly require a deposit.
Once students receive their roommate placements, it might be a good idea to contact them before school starts so you can begin getting to know them, determining their personality, habits, likes and dislikes. If a student anticipates conflict with his or her roommate right off the bat, a simple room change may solve a problem before it starts. Many schools provide telephone numbers and email addresses for roommates, so take advantage of the opportunity.
Create a Budget.
Once you know how much of your overall college costs will be covered by financial aid, create a realistic budget so you can manage other spending. Making a list of other expenses can help determine how much money is needed on a monthly basis. Examples of common expenses include books and course materials, food, transportation, Internet, clothing, cell phone, and entertainment. A lot of these are easy to forget beforehand, but you’ll be missing them when you get to school if you haven’t already planned for these everyday expenses!
Stay Busy this Summer!
To help become mentally prepared for challenging college courses, students can engage in various activities to remain productive during the summer months. Take a writing course or participate in volunteer experiences so you are really prepared for college when it arrives. If you take all of these preparing for college tips into account, you’ll know how to get ready for college and you will start the year off with a blast!