For most high school seniors, the college application season has ended and the focus has shifted to enjoying the final semester and waiting for admission decisions. While it’s tempting to sit back and relax, here are some tips to improve your candidacy and reduce the high cost of college.
- Make Sure Your Applications are Complete – Confirm with the colleges you applied to that ALL application components have been received (e.g. test scores, transcript, evaluations & recommendations, interview report, first semester grades, musical CD). Many schools will not review incomplete applications.
- Consider appropriate opportunities to reach out to colleges with updated credentials and expressions of interest.
- Study Extra Hard in AP, IB and Dual Enrollment Classes. The college credits you earn can reduce the cost of your education and/or allow you to place out of introductory courses. A strong academic record can lead to merit scholarships. Completing college in 3 years instead 4 can be a 25% savings.
- Research Scholarships – With billions of dollars awarded annually, it is worthwhile to research and pursue scholarship opportunities. Your high school guidance office is a good places to start.
- Apply For Financial Aid – FAFSA / CSS Profile. Many families who could receive assistance don’t pursue the financial aid process because they assume they won’t be eligible. Many factors are considered in aid eligibility, and it is not unusual for families with relatively high incomes and assets to qualify for aid and scholarships. Keep track of deadlines and submission requirements.
- Research College Majors – Learn about career paths and compensation. These books can help.
- College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs: The Actual Jobs, Earnings, and Trends for Graduates of 60 College Majors
- Book of Majors (College Board Book of Majors)
- Visit Colleges on the Web – Use the Internet to learn more about colleges you are considering. In addition to the school web portals, there are a host of great sites offering everything from on-line tours to rankings. An InLikeMe favorite is Unigo.com, a no-fee site packed full of candid reviews (written by students), videos, photos, admissions information and more. While there’s no substitute for an in-person visit, you may want to save your money for visiting schools you’ve been admitted to and that genuinely interest you.
- Get a Job – Tuition is just one part of the college cost equation.Total cost includes tuition, room and board, student fees, books and supplies, transportation and other expenses. Money earned from after-school, weekend and summer jobs can help pay for the high cost of college.
- Learn about Financial Aid and Prepare to Negotiate – Financial aid packages can be appealed and improved. Consider contacting financial aid officers directly if your situation has changed or if you’ve received a more attractive package from another school of similar or higher caliber. And, take the time to fully understand aid offers. Check to see if it’s for multiple years or just a single year and if there are qualifiers, such as maintaining a minimum GPA, pursuing a specific major or playing on an athletic team.
- Make Your Interest Known to Colleges – Take advantage of opportunities to show your interest. Given similar qualifications, an applicant who appears likely to attend generally stands a better chance for admission.
Author: Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.