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College & Career Planning


1.   Good grades and test scores are your best bet to get the largest amount of free money to go to college.



2.   Take the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT at least 2-3 times.  Begin studying before you take each test. You can begin taking these in March of your junior year and must be done testing by December of that same year, your senior year.



3.   Start searching for scholarships that fit your profile. Use these useful links to start your search:



4.   Make a list of colleges that consists of dream, match, and safe schools for you based on your achievement.  It is not at all uncommon for a high-performing student to consider and apply to up to 10-12 colleges.



5.   Try to visit some college campuses with your parents, if possible.  It's also a great idea to talk to former students from your high school who are attending the universities you are planning on applying to because their frame of reference will, most likely, be very similar to yours.



6.   Get involved on your high school campus.  Join a club, play a sport, start a club, run for office, participate in student government.  Colleges want a well-rounded student.  Ironically, according to research, those students who are most involved on their high school campus also tend to be the best students academically.



7.   Start working on those college application essays during the summer before your senior year.  You will need them for two things:  for your personal statements/personal insights for your college applications, and for your scholarships that you will be applying for.  They must be some of your most concise and succinct writing that is a 'snapshot' of your deepest trials, goals, and values.  



8.   Start working on logging the volunteer hours you have been doing in your community and this is a good thing to include in your essay.



9.   Start writing down everything you have done, accomplished, and participated in throughout high school and put it into a Brag Sheet.  



10.  Start thinking about what teachers, administrators, and community leaders you are going to ask for Recommendation letters. Pick people who will say great things about you.



11.  Start applying for colleges.



12.  Proofread everything before you submit.



13.   Look at applying to accredited private and independent colleges.  While their costs are often higher than public universities, many of these colleges have endowment funds and additional funding resources to provide scholarships and grants to help you attend college, sometimes, making it realistic to attend a private university.
**Remember there are over 7,000 colleges in the US alone.



14.  Right after October 1 (As of September 2015, students are able to file a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017).  While it may seem early to apply, one aspect of the "line" for financial aid is determined by the initial time stamp when you submitted your FAFSA.  Every day that you wait or delay, thousands of families are getting in line ahead of you.  Apply for financial aid by going to you can select up to (10) colleges to have your FAFSA Student Aid Report sent.



15.  Remember you, most likely, will not get accepted to every college to which you apply.  I always tell students to keep ALL options open, even community college, just in case that becomes the only option your family can afford.  I also tell all my students to dream and dream big.  And, finally, that they will DEFINITELY NOT get into their dream college if they don't apply to it.

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