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I can remember the day that my oldest daughter told me that she wanted to go away to College. Living away from home and attending College was new for me as Bob and I both went to the local campus and stayed in our own apartment. I felt overwhelmed with what we needed to do.
Thankfully, Bailey knew pretty early on in high school which allowed us ample time to prepare for all of the various tasks that need completed and by going through all of this, it actually made things so much easier for when Morgan applied.
Today’s blog post contains information that we collected and used while applying to various Colleges and Universities.
First off, in my opinion, it’s never to early to begin your search or to inquire so that you can be prepared. Time seems to fly by and next thing you know it, it’s time to apply.
We began touring campuses in our girls Junior year; even ones that they didn’t really think they were interested in. (I’ll explain more of why later.) Most Colleges and Universities have days where parents and prospective students can come for the day, enjoy lunch, listen to speakers, learn what’s in store if they apply/are accepted as well as tour the campus and meet the staff. We did this for both girls and felt it was of great value to see and hear what our child would get in return for choosing that particular school. There were also individual times that we could meet as well. Some campuses even have overnight visits which was really helpful for us and also waived the application fee because we went and visited the campus.
We learned about expenses, scholarship and grant opportunities, loans as well as work study and various clubs they could join. This really helped us as we were planning out expenses and gave us time to checkout Fastweb.com and work with the High School Guidance Counselor for additional scholarship opportunities. By the way, there are TONS of different scholarships out there and it will take leg work but it’s worth it!
Once we got through the visits, we could then narrow down the list of where each teen wanted to go and create a list of requirements that needed met to apply and if need be, work through the summer to have things in order for early admission. Be sure to check out each school’s deadlines and write them down as well as if they require a paper application or if you can apply online. There are still schools that require you to mail things in.
Another thing that each of my girls did at the end of Junior year was take their SATs. This may not be a requirement for all schools as it seems to vary these days. In fact, some schools have replaced this testing with interviews and essays. Be sure to check the school’s website or speak with an admittance counselor for current admission requirements.
Before entering Senior year, we had each teen ask two teachers for letters of recommendations and each teacher thanked them for doing so before school started as it gave them ample time to prepare it. We also had them start working on their essays and ask for their transcripts to be sent. Senior year is busy, busy, busy and it flies by. Having an essay written and requesting info in advance takes the pressure off. In our experience, the same essay could be used for each school. Again, you’ll want to confirm what’s required to apply.
During Senior year (after October 1), you’ll need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) regardless of your income level. You’ll need last years tax return to do this and you’ll also need an email address for yourself as well as your teen. You state may also have Student Aid that you can apply to. Check your state’s website for more information. I can say that over the years, this process has gotten easier. Don’t let it scare you and when it doubt and if you have questions, make a phone call to the finical aid office at one of the colleges and ask for help.
One of the last steps is to apply. As I mentioned before, make sure you know the deadlines. Each school is different. In fact, for our youngest daughter, early admission was mid October where for our oldest, it was December. Thankfully, we’ve been on top of things by doing all of the things I referenced above and we’re blessed to have several colleges to choose from.
Lastly, you wait. You wait for that email or packet to arrive in the mail with the wonderful news that your teen has been accepted. (If you’re like me, you want to rip it open but don’t. Let them do it! and then celebrate together. (By the way, it seems like the longest day ever when this happens.) If you’ve applied to several schools, your teen has his/her time to decide on where they want to go. It will be listed in the letter. This is such an exciting time for everyone! Our advice to our girls when trying to decide which school to go to, was asking them where they could see themselves. Did they picture themselves having fun on campus, making friends, enjoying school? That helped make the decision easier.
Now, one thing that might happen when you get the acceptance letters is you might find that your teen is accepted but put on a wait list. That means that they have been accepted but there isn’t enough space for them to attend unless there are enough people who have declined their offer. There’s information in the letter about the steps involved if you wish to remain on the waitlist. This is one of the reasons that I recommend your teen applies to multiple colleges so that they have options.
So there’s how to get your teen ready for college. Don’t you feel better now knowing the steps involved? It’s not as hard as it feels. Be sure to save this article to Pinterest so you can refer to it as needed.
In this together,
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