Happy fall everyone! There’s just nothing like the delicate transitions to crimson and gold and new Starbucks drinks. Not to mention counting down the days until we can wear silly costumes and justify eating lots of unhealthy food, all in the good spirit of Halloween, of course. Unfortunately, October doesn’t only bring cozy sweaters and spiced lattes. Yes, the FAFSA season is upon us.
Fortunately for us admitted students, the chilly autumn months don’t bring as much stress as they used to when we were in high school. But if you find yourself feeling anxious about the college admissions process, here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Keep an eye on the deadlines
Most universities offer two deadlines: early action and regular decision. Sometimes they want you to apply early decision. It’s important to know what these plans mean and when all the information is due.
Early action is the route I chose to go and the one students should choose for their top universities. What this plan means is that you apply to the university earlier than other applicants normally would. Students receive an earlier response to their application but do not have to commit to the school until National Decision Day (May 1st). These applications are generally due early November.
Early decision plans are binding, meaning that if you get accepted into the school you must attend that college. These contracts are offered more in prestigious schools. Applications for early decision are also due in the beginning of November.
Regular decision is the normal process by which students apply to college. These applications are frequently due in the middle of January and applicants receive a response late March/early April.
2. What is important to you?
Location. Student/Faculty ratio. Tuition. Majors offered. Size. Acceptance rate. Private or public? All of these are factors to consider when applying to college. I know I prefer smaller universities to large ones because I learn better in a close-knit environment. Know what you like and what you don’t and then use that information when selecting a university.
3. Financial Aid
Everyone should fill out the FAFSA. Let me say it louder for the people in the back. EVERYONE SHOULD FILL OUT THE FAFSA. Regardless of income and background, the FAFSA is a great tool- and it’s free! It offers you grants (which you don’t have to pay back) as well as give you information about loans that you qualify for if that’s an option your family was considering. (Did I mention it was FREE???).
4. Apply, Apply, APPLY!
Applying to colleges has been made way easier thanks to the Common App. You can fill out one application and submit it to as many universities as you want. Keep in mind that the more colleges you apply to, the more options you’ll have in the spring. So apply to as many as you can, there’s nothing to lose.
Good luck everyone and happy college application season!
Song of the Week: Dandelion Wine- Gregory Alan Isakov