Spring is only three weeks away and you can finally take a deep breath as you are almost halfway done with the semester! Spring is a time to focus on summer employment, courses for fall semester, and your academics. It may seem like you have a long time until summer vacation, but don't let the long weekends and school vacations pass you by. Take all the opportunities you can to work towards improving your future. Students looking to stay on track should take advantage of these tips!
Apply for Scholarships
As you breathe a sigh of relief, your job isn't quite done just yet. At this point we hope you have sent in your college applications, filed your FAFSA, and applied for some scholarships. If you haven't applied for any scholarships, now is the time! Search for local scholarships at RIScholarships.org. For larger scholarship opportunities check out sites cappex, scholarships, and fastweb. These aren't the only scholarship search engines, but they are a good start!
Evaluate Award Letters Carefully
Award letters will soon be hitting your mailboxes. Trying to determine which school is giving you the best deal is not always easy. Not every school outlines awards the same way as the others. That's why at the RISLA College Planning Center we offer help to families trying to make this figure out which school is giving them the best deal. Book an appointment with us to discuss award letters. It's important to understand which school is academically and financially the best fit for you and your family. If you don't have time to visit us in our office, be sure to check out our post on award letters.
As the weather gets nicer, it's easy to catch a case of senioritis. It's important to stay focused on your academics and extracurricular activities. Don't stop trying and keep putting fourth your best efforts! Colleges will receive a final transcript at the end of the academic year and colleges can revoke acceptances if a student's grades have dropped significantly. If you stay on track, you won't become one of those students!
Choose Courses Wisely
We know you have a ton of options for courses next year and it's important to keep challenging yourself and to choose your courses wisely. You may want to load up on fun electives, but the reality is you should continue to take core classes to show colleges you are serious about academics. Pay attention to high school course requirements at colleges you are interested in and make sure you will be meeting their minimum criteria for admission. If you don't want to take physics, maybe you should take a forensics class or if you don't want to take calculus, take trigonometry instead. You don't have to take all AP or Honors classes but you want colleges to see that you're still willing to put forth the effort to learn and remain engaged in your education.
Discuss Finances & College Affordability
One of the most importantt conversations you will have about college is what you and your family can afford to pay. You should sit down with your family and discuss possible career choices. Your career choice will help your family determine the best course of action on how to pay for college. Once you have determined a tentative career path...have an earnest conversation about what is affordable for your family. Make sure you understand the net price (cost minus financial aid) is at schools before applying, what the monthly payments will be on any student loans you borrow, and understand what a typical starting and mid-level salary are in the field of your choice.
Visit Colleges and Attend College Fairs
One of the best ways to learn if a school is a good fit for you is to visit the college campus. You can see what the other students are like and what the facilities are. It's highly likely that your tour guide will be a current student, so take the opportunity to ask them any questions about their personal experiences the school. College fairs can help undecided students determine if college is a path they can see in their future. Students will have the chance to learn about different kinds of programs offered at colleges and the financial aid that is available to help them pay for college. Choosing a college wisely can mean the difference between graduating and dropping out, so students need to do their homework before sending out applications.