It's May and your high school graduation
is closer than ever! But remember, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up in high school...and there's plenty to think about for next semester as well.
This is why we've developed a list to keep you focused, and to help eliminate some of the unknowns you're facing. Remember, YOU DID IT, and you should be preparing for your next semester in college (no matter what this may look like).
College Planning Checklist for High School Seniors
Soon-to-be college freshman
, here's what you need to focus on accomplishing this May:
1. Don't Overlook Your Accomplishment
Yes, you’ll be asked to look ahead to next school year and make decisions about orientation visits, where to live, and how to budget for college living – but don’t forget about living in the present.
You are graduating from high school this month! Enjoy the festivities your high school or family have planned for you. Soak up this time with friends, family, teachers, coaches, and mentors. They have poured into you these last for years and want to celebrate the hard work you’ve done.
2. Ask For More Financial Aid
If you or your family have faced an unexpected financial emergency, it’s time to ask the financial aid office to consider giving you a better package. This is known as a financial aid appeal
Colleges will work with students who have unusual family circumstances that may not be reflected on the FAFSA, or have happened since the form was filed. Reach out to your college sooner, rather than later to get the process going.
3. College Summer Orientation Sessions
Email your admissions office to see if they're offering a summer orientation. These on-campus events are different from the campus visit you completed as a prospective student.
You’ll get an in-depth look at what it actually means to be a student at that particular college. Plus, attending an on-campus event over the summer will help to quell the nerves of arriving to campus in August as an official student.
4. Summer Job Planning
Now's the time to begin searching and securing your summer job if you haven’t done so already. A part-time job
is great way to either save for college tuition or student living costs, like clothing, late night dinners, and early morning coffee.
5. Final High School Transcripts
Reach out to your high school counselor to ensure they have the correct college choice on record and are forwarding your final school transcripts to the college. Don't forget to say thank you for their help this year!
6. Prepare Your College Budget
Prepare a realistic
(note the emphasis on the word realistic) student budget that you can actually USE once you get to college.
Research college student budgets. There are plenty out there to help get you started on the process.
7. Consider a Credit Card
If you’re 18, consider opening a credit card. It’s a good idea to start establishing good credit earlier in life.
The key is to take out a low limit and only buy things when you actually have the money to pay for them.
Keep the balance as low as possible and pay off the balance each month, never spending money you don’t actually have! Avoid the credit trap: If you think you can’t handle a credit card, it’s best not to open one at all.
8. Family Discussions Regarding Budgeting & Contributions for College (Aside from Tuition)
By now you’ve likely discussed the tuition budget, but have you discussed the other financial needs with your family? Talk about who is paying for computers and dorm supplies as well as other financial contributions for college living so that the entire family is on the same page.
It’s best to talk now because you’ll have the entire summer to work, save and apply for scholarships. You can also look for jobs on your college campus if your parents aren’t able to contribute. Keep in mind that, come fall, most jobs on campus will be taken so it’s best to look sooner rather than later.
9. File Your Federal FAFSA
It’s your last chance to submit your FAFSA
form for federal aid – if you haven’t done so already! The federal deadline for the FAFSA falls on June 30 – so make sure you get yours in before then if you’d like to apply for federal aid.
The school and state deadlines typically fall sometime between February and early April, so it’s really best to submit your form as soon as possible after October 1! Remember that in a few months: you will need to file your FAFSA again to be eligible for financial aid, but renewing your FAFSA is much easier as a college student.
11. Find Your Future Roommate
If you need to find a roommate, there's an app for that! Check out roommate matching sites like roomsurf
Create a list of things to discuss with your future roommate, such as who’s bringing what to the dorm room, pet peeves, and what each of your daily routines are like - how you sleep, study, hobbies, etc.
12. Keep Applying For Scholarships
Apply for scholarships regularly. Start with the Scholarships for the Class of 2023
Even as a college student, you'll still need to continue applying for scholarships! Many students make the mistake of limiting their scholarship search to the high school years when there are thousands of award opportunities for college and grad students alike.
Update your Fastweb profile when necessary, check your Scholarship Matches
frequently, and set a goal to apply to 1 – 2 scholarship each week.
Congrats to the Class of 2023! We’re so proud of your hard work and dedication!