Going to College: Where to Start

Going to college after high school can be very confusing. You have so many different options and paths to go down. You could go into the military, go into a trade, go straight into the workforce, or go to college.

You may have your mind set on one thing and switch to another which is totally normal and understandable. You are a teenager and you are supposed to be thinking about what you want to do for the rest of your life.

If you are late to the game of deciding to go to college or you aren’t and you just don’t know where to start, don’t worry there is always time. Almost everyone has an opportunity to go to college if they do the work and put their mind to it.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money, there are so many different loans and financing options to look at. Don’t change your mind just because you don’t where to start when applying for college and figuring out where you want to go. This is a confusing time in your life and that’s normal. If you are. A first-generation college student, it can also be hard because those around you may not know how to go about it either.

Don’t worry because there are many people and websites out there to get you through the process. Here are a few tips on Going to college and where to start to begin figuring out your future.

Going to College: Research

The first thing that you can start doing is to research. You can start researching all the different schools that are in the location where you want to attend, and you can start researching different majors.

There are many tests online you can take that will give your ideas about your major, but you really want to make sure that it is something you actually want to do for the rest of your life. There are also so many different people you can talk to about finding a major. You also want to research the different cities that the schools are located in to see the different opportunities you will have.

Looking up different club and involvement is also an important factor. And of course last but not least is the price. You want to make sure that you are choosing schools that you will be able to pay for, especially if you are taking out loans.

Going to College: Talk to Your Counselor and Peers

Talking to the people that know you best is one of the best things that you can do. They will be honest with you about where they think you will like it and what majors you will actually be good at.

You would rather them tell you the truth now than find out the hard way later. Don’t be afraid to reach out to teachers and counselors because that is what they are there for. In this confusing time in your life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out for help.

Go on Visits

It is so important to schedule college visits. Actually seeing a school can make the biggest difference. It can really show you what you do and don’t like. Looking at things online and talking to people on the phone is completely different than actually seeing the place where you will be attending.

You will also normally get to see students walking around and interacting with their school which gives you a great idea of day to day life at the college. You would rather go on too many visits than not enough and make the wrong decision.

High schools are also usually pretty lenient and encouraging about missing school for college visits.

Check the Requirements

Before going to college or getting too excited about a school make sure that you check the requirements and the average scores of the college. You should apply everywhere, but you don’t want to get your hopes up about a  school if they have a very selective admissions process.

You can easily find the acceptance rates of most schools online. You also want to make sure that you have all the transcripts, recommendations, and information that each school needs. Just double-check so that you don’t turn in an incomplete application or get your hopes up about a top school. Apply everywhere and hope for the best.

Watch the Due Dates

There are so many different due dates for applications and scholarships. Most colleges have different due dates for early applications, early decisions, and regular admissions. Make sure that you research the meaning of each of these things at each individual school and know all the due dates.

There are so many different deadlines that you should really write them all down or keep a calendar. The last thing that you want to do is not get into a school because you missed the deadline for applications. Normally the sooner you apply to a school, the better chance you have of getting in.

Apply for Scholarships

I cannot stress enough how important it is to apply to every scholarship that you can. You never know what you may be capable go receiving and how the other applicants are. Scholarships can make the biggest difference and can affect how much debt you will have for years to come.

Even if you are lacking in other areas senior year, make sure to not slack in this one. I applied to every scholarship I could in high school and it really paid off.

Research Loans

Make sure that you find out if you need to take loans out as soon as possible. When it comes to loans you need to research all the requirements and rules and makes sure that you have a cosigner if you need one.

If you do not have the money in time for the due date of tuition you will not attend the college that semester. This is very important.

Fill out FASFA

It is also so important that you fill out FASFA. So many different things rely on the results of your FASFA. Your colleges’ financial aid depends on it. Many scholarships also require that you attach the results from your FASFA. Even if you or your parents have enough money to completely cover tuition, you should fill it out anyway.

You never know what’s going to happen and you always want a backup plan. FASFA offers you loans as well so remember that.

Start Preparing Early

Start preparing for anything to do with college as soon as you can or as soon as you know about it. You want to start applications, FASFA, scholarships, and college preparation as soon as you can.

This includes buying stuff for. Your dorm, finding a roommate, and declaring a major. This will all really benefit you once you actually get to school.

Talk to College Advisors

If you are having any trouble figuring out anything about the application process or declaring a major, feel free to reach out to your advisors at college. This is their job and most of the time they would love to help you. That is what they are there for and they are very useful resources.

Take College Classes in High School

If you figure out that you are going to college soon enough, try to take as many college classes as you can. This is saving you money and preparing you for college. You will be so thankful once you start the first semester that you got those classes out of the way in high school.

Don’t Get Discouraged

If you do not get accepted into some schools or receive some scholarships, try not to get discouraged. There are so many smart people and so many people going to college. You deserve this chance just as much as everyone else and you shouldn’t let others make you feel otherwise. Keep trying and pushing through no matter what.

Read more on writing great college entrance essays here. If you plan on applying for college or university soon, please take a visit to commonapp.org to help you on your journey.

Apply to Several Schools (Have a Backup)

The worst thing that you can do is only apply to your top school. You never know what is going to happen and you want to make sure that you have a backup plan no matter what. You may also change your mind down the road so it is just a good idea to apply to as many schools as you possibly can.

Be Prepared for Application Fees

Be prepared to pay fees to apply to certain schools. This mostly applies to bigger state schools and any schools that have lower acceptance rates. Also be aware that if you have to send ACT scores to any schools you didn’t originally send them to, you will have to pay a fee as well.

Overall there are so many different steps that you can take to make the college process less stressful. Do everything you can now and make going to college and where to start simpler.

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