College application month is here! Colleges and universities across the U.S. are opening their applications to students for the Fall 2022 term. This is a busy time of year for many seniors as they think about where to apply and how to pay for school.
Here are some things to consider as you approach applying to colleges and universities:
Finalize your list
Most students should consider applying to 5-7 colleges according to the CollegeBoard. When making a final list, students should consider academic interest, campus culture, location, and athletics, among other things. Which universities will challenge them and keep them engaged over the next four years? Tools like SCOIR, Big Future, and Niche help students identify colleges that best fit them. High school counselors are excellent resources for guidance as well.
Keep in mind that most universities charge an application fee. However, some students may be eligible for a fee waiver, and some universities are offering free applications to all students during College Application Month. Check out CollegeBoard's Big Future site for more information about potential fee waivers.
There are ways to pay
School cost is a genuine concern for students, but there are many ways to get financial aid to help pay for college. The FAFSA is the federal application for student aid. Students should complete this as soon as possible because the amount they can receive from the federal government increases the earlier they apply. Going Merry offers a tool that walks you through the questions one by one to ease the process. Speaking of Going Merry, there are thousands of scholarships available for students. Students can apply for and receive scholarships based on many things: interests, demographics, athletics, and academics. Scholarships can be found by checking a college’s financial aid page, CollegeBoard, and sites like GoingMerry and Fastweb. By maximizing financial aid, a family can significantly reduce the cost of attending college.
Look for the school's freshman admissions page
College admissions departments receive a lot of questions from students, and they make an effort to answer common questions available on their website for new applicants. These freshman admissions pages are an excellent resource for applicants to get information about requirements, scholarship/financial aid information, application steps, and more. For example, here are the pages from the University of California, Riverside and Arizona State University.
When reviewing the requirements, check for information about SAT/ACT testing. Many colleges across the country do not require students to submit scores with their applications this year. Also, check if the application will have an accompanying essay, and begin thinking about how to respond. Some universities use the Common App questions, while others may have their own (like the UC system's PIQs.) Sites like CollegeEssayGuy and CollegeBoard's Big Future have many resources to write a great college application essay.
Student-athletes planning to play their sport while in college have some special considerations. By now, student-athletes should have their free profiles made through the NCAA eligibility center website. The NCAA has numerous resources and checklists to help students stay on top of their unique requirements.
Not a Senior?
Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors can still participate in college application month. They can use this time to refine their list of colleges, learn about admissions requirements, take live or virtual campus tours, and much more. This month is an excellent reminder that it pays to be prepared. Proactive underclassmen will be much better informed and less stressed when it is their turn to apply in the coming years. The information learned now will help students finalize their college list and prepare information for their application. Juniors can also start applying for scholarships!
As with most things in life, communication is key. Students should speak with their high school counselors and admission counselors at universities to ensure they understand the different parts of the application process and get answers to their questions. High school counselors have a wealth of information and resources to support seniors in their applications. If the freshman admission page of your university doesn't answer a question, the admission counselors will be happy to provide more information.
At Method, our counseling department aims to provide students with all the information they need to prepare for life after high school. Method students are encouraged to start planning early using tools like SCOIR and GoingMerry to identify good match schools and financial aid opportunities.
It is not too late to start planning and applying to colleges and universities! So research some schools, finalize your list, and apply confidently!