Getting ready for College
Getting Ready for College
2020 Texas Monthly College Guide- More than 74 Texas schools from A to Z. These snapshots are designed with parents in mind just as much as the students—it’s information that will help you make an informed decision on where your student will spend four (give or take) important years.
THE ULTIMATE LIST OF COLLEGE COST CALCULATORS - CALCULATE COLLEGE COST, STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS & SAVINGS - It’s never too late to start planning for college expenses and how you’ll pay for them. Here you will find comprehensive explanations of important points to consider when financing college, along with over a dozen useful calculators to help you plan.
There is a lot to do to get ready for college, and it can be overwhelming. The first thing to do is get organized. Use the senior checklist on our website as a general guide, and get organized:
Know deadlines. Admissions and school scholarship deadlines can be very early your senior year and you need to know both. School scholarship deadlines can come before admission deadlines. For example, an admissions deadline might be Feb 1, but the priority scholarship deadline is Dec 1. You may meet the admissions deadline but then have missed the scholarship deadline! It is often necessary to complete an admissions application before you can apply for school scholarships. Admissions applications often need to be done a month before scholarship deadlines to be safe. Oct 31 is a good goal to set to have admissions applications completed.
After being accepted you will need to meet deadlines for FASFA at https://fafsa.ed.gov/, housing, registration, orientation, payment, etc. Also there are various scholarships you will want to apply for. Know those deadlines and plan! Use this fafsa guide.
Know what is required. All schools have an admissions application to fill out that may be 5-15 pages of information. All schools will need your current transcript (and later a final transcript). All universities need an ACT or SAT score. Some admissions applications require letters of recommendation, essays, and resumes. All this can take considerable time to prepare so look into what you will need. College reps and admissions offices can tell you exactly.
Take the ACT or SAT. If you're going to AC or another community college you won't need this test but all four-year universities require one. Some scholarships also require it. If you haven't taken one, or your score is too low and you are planning a retest, go head and submit college applications anyway. That way your admissions information will be all set when your score comes in. See ACT / SAT info on our website.
After you apply they will communicate, usually through your new school's email, what else you need like proof of meningitis vaccination, school profile, FAFSA application, housing choice and deposits, etc. Keep checking that email and keep organized.
Scholarship applications may require essays or detailed financial information. Look over the application early so you will know how much time you need to prepare in order to meet the deadline.
Make sure you have good TSI scores. Texas public colleges require college-ready TSI scores or students have to take extra developmental classes. See the TSI page for more information.
Make a college resume. You will have to fill out the same information over and over again on applications about your activities in and out of school, your academic achievements, accomplishments, awards, honors, etc. You need to put all this info together in one place.
Print and fill out this Student Information sheet. This will be helpful to anyone you need to ask for a letter of recommendation. Go a step further and type your info into a nice resume. Some applications will directly ask for your resume. Sometimes you can respond to many questions with "see resume" and attach your resume to the application. It's a great time saver.
Not sure what college to go to? Research sites like Big Future. Visit with college reps and ask questions. Find out which schools have good programs for what you want to study.
Consider your academic abilities. One way to do this is to compare a college's average ACT student score and GPA's to your scores. You might not want to go to a school where you at the bottom of the class. You will likely do better in an environment where you are average or above average. Also, apply to at least 3 colleges; you might not get in to your first choice school.
After you've narrowed down your list, go on school visits. Note that colleges have special high school days that are great to go to, but they will welcome your visit any time. Just contact the admissions office and schedule a tour.
Cost is usually a big consideration and may be the final deciding factor. The larger the school generally the more the cost, and private and out of state colleges can be much more expensive that Texas public colleges. However, you really don't know how much you will have to pay until you get your financial package back from the colleges you've applied to. Some schools that have higher expenses can be cheaper for you if they offer you a better financial aid package.
Not sure what to major in? Try some of these career tests.
The ASVAB Career Exploration Program is also available in the Fall. This involves taking the ASVAB skills test followed up by taking the FYI interest profiler. The results link to possible career matches in both the civilian and military world. Students then have access to a very useful career research website with scholarship info as well. This program is offered through the military, but no military interest is required.
AC has a good tool to identify your skills, interests, personality and work-related values called MyPlan.
Finally, don't think you have to have it all figured out before you get to college. Most colleges have career counselors and quality resources to help you make decisions that fit your interests, values, and skills.