10 Things You Must Start Now to Get Ready for College
So you are a junior in high school and getting ready to go to college. You want to be sure you are prepared or, at least as prepared as you can be, but you are not sure how to get started. You also know that choosing to attend college is exciting but can also be stressful. I am here to let you know that, with a little planning and a lot of support from family, counselors and others, you can keep it exciting and minimize the stress.
Over my past almost 9 years supporting our American Indian education services, I have worked with literally thousands of Native American students… answering questions, listening to concerns, and providing helpful guidance that made their college application process easier. I had the additional joy of working each year with the students whom we awarded scholarships through our AIEF program. Here are 10 things Native or non-Native students must do to get ready for college:
- March-August: You want to be researching colleges in your junior year and deciding which ones you may want to attend. As you research, be sure to jot down whether they require the SAT or ACT test.
- March-August: You should know that that some colleges have application fees, but you can apply ahead of time for a fee waiver. You should do this in your junior year well before you submit a college application. The timing varies by school, so early on check into application fees and processing time for fee waivers.
- September: You want to register for the SAT or ACT test, or sometimes both, in September of your senior year in high school. The test(s) you take depend on the admission requirements for each college to which you will apply. And when you register, be sure to indicate which schools you want to receive your test scores.
- October: You actually take the SAT or the ACT tests in October of your senior year. You may also want to register for the winter test at this point. In my experience, some students have found it helpful to take the SAT or ACT test(s) twice.
- October-November: You want to start working on your scholarship applications now. Give yourself plenty of time to complete each scholarship application so as not to impede your funding. The people reviewing the applications can tell when an essay was written last minute.
- November: By this time, you want to be mailing applications to any college you are considering attending. You should also have your school counselor send each college your high school transcript up to that point. (The transcript must come from the school, not the student.)
- December: You want to retake the SAT or ACT test and have the new scores sent to your target colleges. Make a note of your test dates and arrange transportation ahead of time.
- December-January: This is the time to contact your tribal education office to find out whether you are eligible for a tribal scholarship and how to apply.
- January: Depending on your financial situation, you want to start searching for other scholarships. Consider Native American scholarships and others for which you meet the eligibility criteria. As you identify suitable scholarships, be sure to jot down the deadlines so that you do not miss an opportunity for funding.
- January: You also want to apply for FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid) in January of your senior year. Online is the quickest way to apply for FAFSA, but if you need to apply by mail, ask your school counselor for a FAFSA form.
By February 1 of your senior year in high school, you should have all of these steps done.
For additional information, check out our AIEF college guide with detailed information for high school seniors, families and counselors. And, be sure to get an AIEF scholarship application online. They are simple to complete and the deadline is April 4, 2015, so you have plenty of time to write your essay and gather the required materials that need to accompany your application.
I wish you all the very best in this and the coming academic years and in all that you do. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our AIEF program at (866) 866-8642. We are happy to assist in any way we can.