Even with the many unknowns and daily scenarios floating in the news about what the fall 2020 semester will look like for colleges, now is still the time to start thinking about what you need to do to be ready for college.
Here are ten tips to help you get started, but make sure to make your own list of what you need to do and what you will want in place when you arrive on campus next fall.
Finish your school year strong - now is the time to avoid senioritis and low grades.
Check your emails from your school. Make sure you are on top of deadlines for housing, orientation, submitting documents, tuition payments, etc. and what the fall semester will look like so you can plan for it.
Sign-up for housing and send in your deposit. The early bird catches the worm and snags a dorm room.
Final transcripts need to be sent to your school in June. Your counselor may automatically do this, but you should check on this.
If you are working on any Financial Aid details or need to make updates because your family's financial situation has changed, call and email the Financial Aid office. Follow-up on anything you need, or what they may need from you. Don't wait for your school to contact you. Financial Aid offices are there to walk you through your financial aid package and answer any questions you have. You are your own best advocate, so be sure to speak up.
Attend Orientation - Your school's orientation program, whether on campus or virtual will help you get acclimated, allow you to meet some of your newly accepted classmates, find out if you need to take any placement exams, are exempt from entry-level requirements, and possibly even pre-register for fall classes, depending on where you will be attending. If you can attend orientation, try to schedule as early as possible to make it work with your schedule. If the orientation is on campus and you can't travel, check to see if your school offers a local orientation program.
Families/Parents may be offered their own orientation sessions on Financial Aid, FERPA in College, and *Legal Documents you may want*, Health Insurance, Dorm Insurance, Tuition Insurance, Academic or Disability Support, Wellness Programs, Parents’ Weekends and other school-specific programs.
Send any AP scores that may qualify for credit at your school. If you are unsure about this, the College Board website has that information. Every school is different on what score will be considered for credit or allow you to place out of a course.
Make sure to let your other accepted schools know that that you will not be attending.
Send Thank You notes. If you haven't sent a note to teachers, counselors, coaches, or anyone else that has supported you during the college application process or throughout high school now is the time - and share your good news with them. They will be happy to hear from you.
*Bonus Tip If you’re thinking about taking a Gap year or deferring enrollment, check your school’s policy to make sure you understand what you are bound to. Some schools prohibit students from 1) enrolling in college courses (which can include community colleges or pre-college programs that offer college credit) or 2) from applying to any other colleges, or 3) may not allow for Gap years and you would need to reapply to their school if you choose not to attend. Know the parameters before you make a change to your college plans and know every college has its own policy.
*Every family and student will have different needs and requirements. These suggestions reflect a starting place for families and are by no means exhaustive for what each student and family may need. It is the responsibility of each family to research and determine all documents that will be required for their college student.
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