College Check List

Although senior year marks the end of high school and is full of fun perks, it is also filled with information about college and important dates to remember. It is important for students to remain organized and focused to allow for a fun filled, stress-free senior experience.

The first step in applying to college is deciding what schools might be a good fit for students. A good place to start is with Naviance, an online tool sponsored by the guidance department. With Naviance students find colleges that they may want to pursue by entering their GPA, SAT, ACT scores and ideal population and location preferences. All of these are important in determining where a student will have the best college experience. It is recommended that students visit schools they think they are a good academic contender for to get a sense of the environment the school has to offer.

After narrowing their search down to a few colleges students can begin the application process Students should keep track of the deadlines for each college. Many early decision, which is binding meaning if you are accepted you must attend, and early action deadlines, which is priority but nonbinding, have passed. However, many colleges offer regular decision as well as rolling admission. If any of the colleges a student plans to apply to are a part of Common App they should sign up for an account. Many colleges require letters of recommendations. It is important to formally ask teachers for letters of recommendations in advance as they can take time to write and submit. Many schools require an official SAT score report from College Board from applicants which must be ordered one or two weeks before the deadline so schools receive them on time. Each deadline comes with different decision dates and they vary based on schools so it is important to keep track and stay organized.

College can be a financial burden on many families and financial aid and scholarships can help a lot. The guidance department at Riverbend is a great place to learn about local scholarship opportunities. The FASFA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is recommended for all students entering college. The form is released on January 1st and helps provide need based scholarships and grants to students. Deadlines for the FASFA vary based on each college, but the federal deadline is June 30th.

Applying to college can be a stressful and expensive process for students and their families, however, with the use of resources provided by colleges and the guidance office students can remain organized and on track for a bright future. Now is the time for seniors who plan to continue their education at a 4-year university to begin their application process if they have not already. May 1st, National Decision Day will be here before we know it!