This is the time for completing all applications and making sure that your grades are as good as they can be. The grades for the first semester of your senior year are important and are often requested by colleges to ensure that you are still engaged in your senior year.
If you applied early decision or early action, you will have a decision by Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you were accepted, congratulations!
If you were not accepted during the early admission period, do not panic. Your application may automatically go into the regular decision pool of applicants; it is a good idea to contact colleges to ask about their policies. In some cases, your application may have been "on the bubble" and your first semester grades will help your chances of being admitted.
Write thank-you notes to teachers who wrote letters of recommendation on your behalf. Also, write thank you notes to admissions representatives and others that you met or interviewed with as part of your college search process.
If you have not yet visited a college to which you applied, check with the admission offices to see if they have winter visit opportunities. It is important to set foot on the campus before you attend; paper reviews and real-life experiences are very different. This is a place in which you will spend your next 4 or more years and a place in which you will learn much about yourself.
Complete your FAFSA with your parents/guardians. The form is "live" as of October 1. This early date allows you to find your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) before you apply to colleges. You will need to have an estimate of taxes, wages and investments to get started You will also have to create a FAFSA ID if you want to file your FAFSA online. You will use your completed tax information from 2 years before your application year (you will use 2019 tax information to complete your 2020-21-FAFSA).
Even if you do not think you will qualify for financial aid, complete the FAFSA anyway. You may expand your list or your life circumstances may change unexpectedly. The FAFSA is also a key to scholarship consideration for many schools. Keep track of the FAFSA deadline for each school to which you applied. They vary by school so be alert!
What should high school seniors be doing during the school year
This is a busy, time of year for high school seniors. Creating a plan and working on it bit by bit can help you be prepared and cut down on the stress level at the same time.
Create or expand your relationship with your school and college counselor. This person will be the key to getting your forms and documents from your high school to your colleges of choice. Communication is the key and you have to take the lead.
Spring is the time when financial aid packages come to you from each of your schools to which you have been accepted. You will find the cost of attendance (COA) (tuition, room and board, other costs including travel, books,etc.); your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) scholarships and grants, and finally loans and their sources.
Make sure you take the time to look over these offers carefully because they differ based on what is available from the school and other sources. If you receive non-school based scholarships, your financial aid packages may be altered so keep in touch with the financial aid office.
You will need to choose a college to attend for the fall by May 1. You will most likely be required to submit an acceptance fee as part of this process. This is usually non -refundable. Ethically, you may only submit acceptance fees to one institution.
Celebrate your successes and still make sure you finish the year strong. Colleges and universities do take your final grades into account. Your level of academic commitment and engagement in high school is a good indicator of your level of engagement in college.
Gerhardt Educational Endeavors, LLC
Brenda Gerhardt, PhD
Independent Educational Consultant
2052 Rosebery Drive Columbus, OH 43220
Phone: (614) 620-2653