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A Pre-Thanksgiving Checklist for High School Seniors

It’s the beginning of November, and if you’re a high school senior, you’re busy with school, extracurricular activities, oh, and figuring out what you’re going to do next year. No big deal, right? For many high school seniors, Fall is an overwhelming time, full of items that need to be crossed off of lists and boxes that need to be checked before graduation in the spring.

We’re here to simplify things for you with a quick checklist of “must do before Thanksgiving” items.

  • Take the ACT or SAT one more time if you need to. Why? Because higher scores mean more financial aid at many schools. Don’t leave money on the table. Brush up on your vocabulary and math, take the test one more time and send the scores to your schools. It can save you thousands of dollars in the long run!
  • Finalize your list of schools and, if you haven’t already, plan to visit them! Now is the time to get organized. Do some soul-searching about which schools are the best fit for you academically, socially, financially, etc. And, if you haven’t seen all of them in person yet, do your best to try. Having an opportunity to physically be on campus is an important experience and will help you make a good decision.
  • If you can’t get to campus (and even if you can), try to find some students to talk to about their experience. Students who graduated from your high school or students who are majoring in what you intend to study are great resources about what college life is really like both in general and on that campus.
  • Complete the FAFSA. We cannot stress this enough. COMPLETE THE FAFSA! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the gateway to financial aid. Nearly all types of financial aid – both need- and merit-based – are awarded to students who complete the FAFSA. Even if you think you don’t qualify, COMPLETE THE FAFSA! The FAFSA opened on October 1 for the first time this year so schools can award financial aid earlier and students can make better decisions. Read more about this change in our previous blog post.
  • Apply to the colleges on your list. There are many ways to do so. Many schools accept the Common App, making it easy to apply to a number of schools with one application. You can also apply Early Decision or Early Action, programs that allow you to receive an admissions decision earlier in the process. Our most recent blog broke down these options. Check it out for more information.
  • Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse if you plan on participating in collegiate athletics. This is important for a few reasons. First and foremost, the Clearinghouse audits student athletes’ transcripts to ensure they are eligible to play at the collegiate level. Second, the Clearinghouse is where college coaches find eligible student athletes.
  • Request your transcripts and recommendations. All college applications require these, and each school (high schools and colleges alike) has different policies for requesting and receiving transcripts and recommendations, so make sure you carefully follow the policies outlined by your schools!
  • Apply for scholarships. We know you just worked really hard to get your college applications completed and submitted, but you aren’t finished yet! Spend a couple of weeks working on scholarship applications. Yes, you’ll have to write a few more essays now, but it could mean writing fewer student loan repayment checks after you graduate! We update a number of external scholarship databases on our web site at least once a month. Start there!

These are the tasks that need to be prioritized for completion by Thanksgiving of your senior year. If you need help with anything on this list, feel free to reach out to the College Now advisor in your school or make an appointment in our Resource Center by calling 216.635.0151 or emailing resourcecenter@collegenowgc.org.

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