More About Planning for College
by Dave Berry
In aother article, we began talking about how high school seniors could start the college selection and admission process. We noted that waiting until the senior year to start the college search process complicates matters but it is not an unworkable situation. The keys are research and communications with guidance counselors and family members.
Seniors must select at least three likely college choices. Leading up to the selection of the three choices should be a process of profile matching. Seniors should also carefully review the schools' entrance requirements and make sure there is a reasonable match. It makes no sense to apply to a college or university whose entrance requirements far exceed your academic record. Use common sense when conducting your college search.
Cost always has to be a consideration. One thing you should do after you make your candidate list is to call the schools' financial aid offices and ask for written information about their financial aid programs. Even if your family's initial reaction is, "There's no possible way we can afford that!" don't abandon ship. You may be very surprised by the multitude of creative plans available that can help you manage the seemingly impossible cost of higher education.
After you have found that you meet the standards of your candidate schools and you feel there is a reasonable opportunity to pay for them, you'll have to make a formal application. Most schools have definite application deadlines. Pay attention to them. Even though some schools will still accept an application a day or two past deadline, don't tempt fate. Usually, you'll receive an application along with the school's promotional materials.
Read the application instructions carefully. This is where your counselor can be a big help. You may need teacher recommendations or have to write a personal statement (known as The Essay). Your official transcript should be sent in through your counselor's office. Make certain that all details are taken care of. Extra attention to details here will pay off later. If you are uncertain how to approach a particular section of the application, ask your counselor and read a good book or article that addresses that area.
Your parents will be involved in the financial aid application process. There are many details involved with financial aid. Take advantage of all the help you can get.