There's a lot to think about when choosing a college, but you don't have to do it alone. There are many resources available to help ensure a smooth transition into this new life adventure:
These sites provide information on an array of topics, and can help guide you from your research to your first college experiences.
Created by the College Board, a nonprofit association dedicated to preparing students for college. Includes a financial aid estimator; a college search; tips on planning, preparing and applying for college; information on SAT and AP testing; and more.
Maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. Includes college search, financial aid assistance, college planner/time line and other useful tips for college-bound students.
One-stop site for advice on career planning, financial strategies and choosing a college. Sponsored by participants in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).
Site of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Offers information on college fairs and financial aid seminars.Archived newsletters offer parents and students tips on preparing for college,ways to maximize resources for scholarships, career development, college searches and more.
Tip #1: Ask admissions offices for current freshmen's e-mail addresses.
Ask what they like or dislike about the school, and what they wish they knew when they were applying for admission. Meet a current student for coffee on campus - it's a great way to make a new friend and find out more about the school from someone firsthand.
Tip #2: Attend college fairs early in the decision process.
College fairs are a great way to meet admissions staff from different colleges one-on-one. Ask questions, collect materials, and use this opportunity to narrow down early which schools you might consider and which ones don't seem like a good fit.
Tip #3: Check out a copy of the Princeton Review's Best Colleges from your local library.
Published yearly, this in-depth guide contains valuable information that most college Web sites don't provide, such as student narratives, what the typical student wears and drives, the most popular student activities, and what the campus atmosphere is like.
Operated by CampusTours, an organization that works with more than 800 colleges and universities throughout the United States to build and offer students virtual college tours.
Site of the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling. Includes local college fairs' calendars and online registration forms, plus a link to nacac.com.
Site of the Michigan Community College Network. Provides contacts for and links to community colleges throughout Michigan.
The National Center for Education Statistics provides a college search by state or region, as well as pertinent information for each school, including campus crime stats, tuition costs, and student diversity and enrollment.
FINANCIAL AID, SCHOLARSHIPS
Tip #1: Don't eliminate any college because of costs.
Develop a plan on paper to finance your education. Investigate all possible resources, including parents, savings, summer earnings, financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, work-study) and any other sources you can think of.
Tip #2: Consider less expensive options.
Because public universities receive money from state and local governments, these schools offer lower tuition (especially for in-state students). Attending somewhere close to home also will save on expenses, such as dorm living.
Tip #3: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
You'll need this financial aid application form to apply for federal and state student grants, work-study and loans. Complete income tax returns before filling out the FAFSA - much of the information requested is the same. But you don't have to file your income tax return with the IRS before you fill out the FAFSA. Submitting your FAFSA online reduces processing time and costly errors. To get your PIN (which you'll need as an electronic signature and to access information about your application), fill out the brief application at www.pin.ed.gov.You can complete the form a year early if you want to see for what you will qualify.
Site of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).Walks you through getting organized for the FAFSA application (documents you need, etc.), filling the form out and following up on your application status online.
Operated by the State of Michigan; offers information on Michigan-based scholarships, as well as choosing a college, planning a career and more.
Tip #1: Stay on schedule.
Your first round of the ACT or SAT should be in March/April of your junior year, and your second go around in May/June.These dates are suggested for fall application deadlines. For spring application deadlines, it's suggested you take or retake tests by December of your senior year. However, the tests are administered almost monthly and you should consult your school of choice to determine the best schedule of testing for you. Many high schools offer review courses.
www.act.org Site of ACT, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides services in education and workforce development. Includes a college search, admissions applications, ACT registration and test center locator, ACT sample questions, student testimonials, financial aid estimator and more.
Site of the Educational Testing Service. Offers tips on locating centers, and registering and practicing for a number of tests, including AP and SAT.
APPLYING TO SCHOOLS
Tip #1: Avoid application pitfalls.
If applying online, print out the application 4 or 5 times if necessary until it's perfect, before sending it - you want to be sure it's complete and thoroughly proofread. Keep a printed copy in case of computer malfunction and data loss. And, keep in mind, transcripts and recommendations may need to be sent separately in the mail.
Tip #2: If you're not accepted to your colleges of choice, consider attending community college for a year.
Most universities accept transfer credits, and many students get in the second time around because admissions offices aren't focusing on GPAs or standardized test scores.
Tip #3: Start writing your essays the summer before your senior year.
The fall of your senior year will be stressful enough with taking the ACT/SAT, keeping your grades up and attending senior class functions. Don't wait until the night before to write your college entrance essay. Start early, take some time and then go back to it. Sometimes re-reading your work can give you a new perspective and make for a stronger piece.
Tip #4: For schools with rolling admissions, apply early.
Many times schools with rolling admissions get back to you with a decision within a month or two. By knowing an answer, you can eliminate nail-biting nervousness. If you are admitted, make sure you visit the school before making a final decision. If you are deferred, make sure to contact someone in the admissions department and talk to them about why you were deferred and what you can do to increase your chances of acceptance.
Site of the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Provides transfer requirements for Michigan colleges and universities, as well as information on transfer student fairs, college nights and online admissions.