It’s never too early to start thinking about college. Honestly my parents began taking us to visit different college campuses when I was five or six years old. Here are some tips to make choosing and attending a college or university much easier!
Do your FASFA as soon as possible!
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA for short is a U.S. Department of Education program that helps ease the costs of school with pell grants, work study opportunities and federal student loans. The earlier you fill out this application, the better chance you can receive the best financial aid package at your school. Make sure you complete all the necessary paperwork needed to get the maximum amount of financial aid by the appropriate deadline.
Word to the wise: Constantly remind your parents to sign your FAFSA because they get easily distracted with life (Dad I’m talking about you)!
Apply to every scholarship that you can!
I know, I know. You already have a full load of homework from school. Plus you may have football or basketball practice or a part time job. Who wants another task of writing essay after essay or creating short films for few hundred bucks? So what you already received a full ride to the school of your choice. Newsflash: That scholarship isn’t always guaranteed.
Be smart and don’t stop applying for funding until you’ve racked up as much as you can. That sports scholarship could go away if you blow out your knee. A new dean or President could take over and get rid of your scholarship program. Go to your local library and start reading the Atlas Shrugged. Some schools will refund you the excess amount of money left after tuition each semester so be smart and put that money in a savings account. You never know what could happen.
Here are a few sites to help you find some great scholarship opportunities:
Always have a plan B. Trust me!
Sign up for summer college programs
Many colleges have summer programs that you can attend starting as early as middle school. You can stay on campus over the week or month all the while getting a sample of a major you may be interested in as well as college life. This also give you (and your parents) a chance to see if you can handle being away from home. When I went to this summer engineering program at my school, I was able to take crash courses in Statics and CAD which I found out weren’t too bad. I also got the real deal on dorm life and the campus food at school whereas my friends that only went to orientation day saw the glitz and glamour of the school.
Yea…Don’t expect your lunch to be wrapped up beautifully in a fancy box everyday!
Only buy books from the campus bookstore if it is your only option!
My first semester in college my parents did the works. They bought me a huge fridge, flat screen tv and all of my campus books. I thought I was getting a deal by purchasing the used books. Boy was I wrong. Sites like Chegg and Book Rush usually sell textbooks at half the price of the campus’s store. If your school has a Neebo bookstore, they will price match competitor’s rates plus take an extra 10% off so if you need to use your financial aid to get your books ASAP I would suggest getting the ISBN for your books and do some research before you pay $200 for a book you could have got for $60.
Join a study group with like minded peers.
Consider all of your options when picking a study group. Your friends may not always be the best choice. Choose to study with like minded classmates. You don’t want to be distracted away from your studies. The main purpose of going to college is to finish strong right?
A great tip that my husband told me was to study with nontraditional students. Older students, younger parents are usually more focused and take their education seriously.
Network network network!!!
Get to know someone in every department (Admissions, Financial Aid, Bursars, etc). It’s great to know someone on staff at the university that you plan to attend. Treat everyone that you meet with respect whether it’s the President of the university or a cook or cashier in the cafeteria. You never know when you’ll need a free meal.