Energetic green shoots of flowers started peeking out of the ground around the south side of the Student Center last week. The students coming back from spring break look recharged and ready to tackle the rest of the semester -- probably just like you as you go through your junior and senior years!
Let's see what needs to happen this month to keep you (or your child) moving forward in the college application process.
Senior checklist for March
If you’re a senior, you probably finished most of the heavy lifting for college in the fall. Your applications went in a few months ago and you probably heard back from some of the schools already.
Compared with last year's endless forms and lengthy standardized tests, you can almost kick back and relax a bit -- well, almost. A few to-do's still need your attention:
- Continue narrowing your list. If you didn't already trim your list of preferred schools, do that now. You’ll hear back from the remaining admissions departments over the next few weeks. Most of them expect your reply by late April or early May, so figure out your answers now.
- Update your FAFSA information. After getting accepted into a school, you’ll start going through their financial aid process, which relies on the information in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Review the information with your parent or guardian to make sure it's accurate and complete. If you didn't file a FAFSA yet, then do it right away! Talk to your high school guidance counselors and double-check the deadline for your state. (Your FAFSA deadline in Indiana is April 15, 2018.)
- Stay optimistic. Reading acceptance letters feels great, but even a few rejection letters can knock you down. Don’t let an early rejection or two get to you, especially if you applied to several schools. A strong and positive attitude will help you get through this uncertain time.
- Keep looking for scholarships and other aid options. Stay on the hunt for scholarships and grants and send in your applications. If you plan on borrowing money to pay for school, now is the time to continue researching what’s available. Consider a variety of different lenders. Pay close attention to their terms and interest rates.
Junior checklist for March
This one's a big month for you. Your college search picks up more speed, so expect to spend more time researching schools. If you didn't already take one of the big standardized tests this month, then it's probably on your schedule very soon. As you go through the month, work on these items:
- Start looking at due dates. Go through your preliminary list of schools and make a note about each school's application due date. Many schools want applications at the end of the year, so use this time to prepare by putting those dates on your fall calendar.
- Research scholarships and grants. If you haven’t already started searching for scholarship opportunities, begin looking for them now. Talk to your teachers and guidance counselors. Check with your parents to see if their employers or other organizations offer scholarships. Remember to look online, too!
- Take the SAT/ACT (again). It might be your first time registering for the test or maybe you want to improve your score from when you took the test back in the fall. Whatever the case, study and prepare as much as possible. These tests make a big impact on your college search. If you feel uncertain about your test-taking skills, consider raising your confidence by enrolling in a prep program.
- Schedule plenty of college visits. Start setting up campus visits in your area. Start with the schools closest to home so you get the hang of how these trips work, then extend your search outward to more distant schools that look promising.
Deadlines, tests, application essays, and the many other parts of your college search can feel overwhelming. By breaking down your search into several parts and staying organized with checklists, you can make the process go much more smoothly.
To help tame your college decision challenges, download our Ultimate College Decision Timeline. It's a great tool to keep you moving forward!