Planning for college requires attention throughout high school years

Planning for your or your child’s college experience is sometimes described as an overwhelming process.

 

While there are lots of steps, many questions, and a long to-do list, the process does not have to be overly stressful. Thoughtful planning can help make for a better experience for both the prospective college/university student and his or her parent.

“One of the best recommendations is to start your college-planning process early,” said Andrew Hendrix, the director of admissions at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

“Reviewing web-based resources is helpful, but also reach out to your high school guidance or college counselors who can provide information and suggestions. Whenever possible, visit college admissions offices and talk to current college students. They can help you learn more about their institutions. Combining all of these services helps create a comprehensive – and customized – plan.”

Here’s a simple year-by-year planner, as well as links to find much more detailed information online:

 

EIGHTH GRADE/FRESHMAN YEAR

Take challenging core academic courses

Get involved with community and leadership-oriented activities

Ask questions about college from family, friends, and others who can provide insight

Read! Ask your teachers for recommendations

 

SOPHOMORE YEAR

Begin attending college/career information events (college fairs) – continue to do so over next two years

Communicate with your guidance and/or career counselors: review your plan to be sure you’re on track

Begin making quick visits to local college campuses; maybe not a formal tour, but just to walk the campus a bit yourself

Continue reading! Ask your teachers for recommendations

 

JUNIOR YEAR

Take PSAT in the fall

Continue attending college fairs

Request college admissions materials from schools that interest you

Take SAT and/or ACT late in year

Begin making official college visits (weekday tours or open houses scheduled through the Admissions Office)

 

SENIOR YEAR

Get organized with a calendar of dates, deadlines, fees, etc. for the year

Take SAT and/or ACT early in fall; discuss with guidance counselor the need to retake later in the year

Apply to 3 to 5 colleges, making sure to meet all deadlines – most college applications “open” by Sept. 1 of your senior year

Submit FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and scholarship applications

Make return visit to the top two colleges you are deciding between; many campuses offer an “admitted student day” opportunity

Commit to your college of choice no later than May 1

 

ONLINE RESOURCES

act.org

bigfuture.org

petersons.com

GAfutures.org

che.sc.gov (Students, Families & Military tab)

ncaa.org/student-athletes/future

CSRA College Night 2016 planned for Sept. 15
 

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