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Thinking about your future can be an exciting and overwhelming time in your life. Whether you choose to attend a 4-year institution or a 2-year community college there are steps you can take to help you plan and prepare for your future. When the college admission process is done well you can leave high school knowing that you are entering a new and exciting phase or your life.
College Search & College Visits ~ Visit collegeboard.org or cappex.com
College Admissions Testing ~ Link to ACT website. It is recommended the first attempt at taking the ACT or SAT is in the spring of your junior year. For more information on taking the SAT visit collegeboard.com
Applying to College ~ Most colleges now have applications online, however if you do apply on paper be sure to write neatly using ink not pencil. Be organized when you start to apply. You should have a list of your accomplishments you have earned and activities you have been involved in to help you move along with the application process. Thoroughly think through any essay questions before submitting the final draft (see tips below). Be sure to request a transcript to be mailed directly to the institution you are applying to from your high school counselor. Many online applications allow you to save and come back later to complete the application. Most college applications have an application fee as well. Be aware of all deadlines when applying to an institution. Some have early deadlines (as early as November of your senior year) and others have rolling admissions which mean they will be able to accept you at any point during the school year.
Essays ~ Do: 1. Start early giving yourself plenty of time to revise; 2. read directions carefully so you can answer the essay question directly and express yourself as clearly as you can; 3. tell the truth about yourself; 4. focus on an aspect of yourself that will show your best side and a narrow focus is more interesting than broad generalizations; 5. speak positively (negativity tends to turn people off); 6. write about your greatest achievements and assets and be proud of them; 7. have someone proof read your essay; 8. type or use ink for your final draft. Don't: 1. repeat information given somewhere else on your application; 2. write general information or be impersonal; 3. use cliches; 4. be too witty, too opinonated or too intellectual (stay away from extremes). The essay/personal statement is your's and should be written by you. Most admission committees are able to spot essays that are written by parents or other professionals.
Recommendations ~ Recommendation letters should be obtained from people that know you well and can elaborate on your character and work ethic (i.e. teachers, coaches). Be sure to request a letter of recommendation early giving the writer plenty of time to write a well thought out letter. You may not be the only one this person has to write a letter for and you want them to do their best. Provide each person with a 'resume' about yourself and everything you have been involved in to help them write the letter. This should be kept in mind when applying for scholarships as well.
Financial Aid ~ Link to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
College Information for Athletes ~ Link to NCAA Clearinghouse eligibility website
Scholarship Information ~ Scholarship information is distributed to students as it becomes available. All local scholarship information will be provided for students in late winter/early spring. There are websites providing scholarship search databases and can be accessed by visiting the 'Scholarships' tab on the main page. Many scholarships require letters of recommendations and transcripts. Be sure to request these early from teachers and coaches or other people of importance (i.e. pastors....). Transcripts should be requested early from your high school counselor as well.
Visit www.varsitytutors.com/college-scholarship for more scholarship information.
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