How to Prepare for College in 12th Grade

on August 1, 2016

Your senior year is important - there's a lot to do to prepare for college! Here's how to start getting ready.

1. At the beginning of your senior year ask to see a copy of your high school transcripts. You want to see what will be sent out to colleges so there are no surprises.

2. Update your resume, if you need to.

3. Attend college fairs to learn about any other colleges that may be a good match for you.

4. Sign up for any additional SATs or ACTs you might need to take (or retake). Make sure you scores are sent to the colleges you are applying to when you register for the test. Remember, even if you have the test scores to get into the school of your choice, you still want the highest test scores possible for merit and academic scholarships, as well as organizational scholarships. 

5. There are more scholarships available to you this year than ever before. Fill out as many applications as possible.

6. Start working on your college applications. If the schools have “rolling admissions” policies, the applications may come online as early as July or August. If schools have deadlines, you just have to have your application in by that date.

7. Have an adult (teacher, parent, mentor) take a look at your college application essays. Your essay not only needs to be good, it needs to answer the question asked in the prompt. One year one of my students applied to a college with the prompt “How Has Your Family Background Affected Who You Are?” I had a student write about her grandma coming over from Italy, and what her grandma did when she got here. I had the student rewrite his essay. How did Grandma coming over from Italy affect HER? Make your essay about you.

8. Once you have sent in your applications, be proactive!  Check your status online or by email with the school. Do not “assume” that you aren’t missing any data. Schools misplace checks, transcripts and applications all the time.

9. If you haven’t yet, visit the schools. Keep in mind that there are far fewer students attending school in during summer than fall, so visiting when school isn't in session may not give you the best idea of what campus is really like.

10. Send your transcripts to the colleges. A transcript has all your high school information (grades, rank, etc.) on it. 

11. Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss your college plans, and to make sure you’re on the right track.

12. Have your parents fill out the FAFSA Form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at Starting in 2016, the FAFSA opens October 1 - get started early. You won’t receive your financial aid package from colleges until you have been accepted to the school and FAFSA has been completed.  

13. Don’t let “senioritis” get in your way! Keep in mind that senior year grades are very important. A college can rescind your offer if you don't perform as expected senior year.

14. If you have been deferred by a school, find out why. If it's because of your test scores, you may still have time to retake the test(s). If it's because of your GPA, send the schools an updated copy of your transcript (if it will help). 

15. Once you've been admitted to a school, send in your housing application for priority housing.

16. If you'll be living off campus, start making your housing arrangements. The Housing Department at the school is a good source of information if you need help figuring out where to live off campus.

17. At the end of senior year before you graduate, make sure you have your final transcript sent to the school you'll be attending.

18. Submit your deposit. Many schools require this to be done by May 1. 

Barbara DiAlberto has been a College Advisor and Consultant for 18 years, both in the school system and privately. She has helped thousands of students get into college. As the Territory Manager for The Princeton Review, Mrs. DiAlberto is still helping students get into college.

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