IT'S MY SENIOR YEAR!
Congratulations on making it to your final year of high school! This year will be an exciting year for you as you make your transition to adulthood and on to your next role in life as a college student or a full-time employee. This year can bring about a lot of mixed emotions as there are many dates and deadlines to remember and so many things to do. Just remember - your counselor is here for you whenever you need to talk it out!
**Remember to check your Senior Google Class page at least weekly to get updates.
Below is a breakdown of what you should be doing this year.
o Take (or re-take) the SAT and/or ACT College Entrance Exams. These tests may be required by colleges and most students take these exams as juniors. Many re-take it as seniors to try to improve their scores. Register online at the College Board and for the ACT
o Senior Appointment. Each senior meets with their counselor to discuss their plans to apply to their colleges, letting their counselor know how they will applying (i.e. Early Action, Early Decision). Make that appointment with us!
o Start checking for scholarships. - As scholarships become available to us, we will be posting them on Naviance. We also suggest that you search for scholarships in other places. In addition, each Spring, the Hastings Community Local Scholarships will be available to all students to apply to. We will send out notifications when those become available.
o Visit some college campuses. If you haven't done this already, try to schedule some college visits this fall. Interview some students, faculty, and staff if possible.
o Gather all information on the colleges that you are interested in. Get information from every college you are thinking about applying to (programs, deadline dates, financial aid information). Organize yourself and make a list so that you have that information at your fingertips when you begin applying. You will most likely be applying to most all of your schools through the Common Application , however, there are some schools that have their own application sites. Please make sure that you check each of the websites for that information.
o Start your college application essay(s) early. Most schools require essays as part of their application packet. Even if the essay is optional, do it! It is another way for colleges to get to know you - a chance for you to share who you are. You are more than a grade in school or a grade on a standardized test. Get the topic and start writing it early. Try to make your essay compelling and be sure it reflects your best effort. Give it lots of thought, edit, spell-check and ask for feedback from an English teacher, counselor, parent, etc. ALSO, be aware that some colleges will require two essays - the one that you write on a topic of your choice and then a second one that is college specific.
o Finalize your college choices. Begin to finalize your list. Check in with your counselor as you do this as they can help you with that list. You should be thinking about some "reach" schools, "target" schools and "likely to get into" schools.
o Stay organized. Make a checklist for each college you are going to apply to and list all pieces of information that need to be assembled (i.e., forms, recommendations, essays, transcripts, etc.) and all deadlines for those schools. This will help you break the application job into smaller parts. It will also help you stay organized, calm, and on track.
o Request recommendation letters. NOW is the time to ask teachers, coaches, and employers for letters of recommendation related to your activities and employment. These will be required for college applications. Ask for the recommendations in person. If the teachers agree, then add their name to Naviance under “Letters of Recommendations”. Once this is done, the teacher will see the request on their Naviance Dashboard and when they have completed the recommendation, they will upload it there. If an outside recommender agrees to write you a letter of recommendation, please let your counselor know and they will instruct you on how to proceed to get that recommendation to a college. (Outside recommender is anyone who is NOT a teacher).
o Request your transcript from your counselor. Each college that you apply to requires an official transcript directly from the HS Counseling Office. Complete the transcript request in your Naviance account and we will forward those to the colleges that you will be applying to.
o Complete the FAFSA form. Submit the form as soon as possible after October 1. Fafsa.ed.gov. Some schools require it as early as January 1, but be sure to submit it no later than March 1. You improve your chances of receiving financial aid if you submit your forms early. Colleges are handing out aid as the applications come in and there IS a limit to how much they have to give. Get your application in late and all their available money may be gone.
o Find out if colleges require the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. Some colleges (mostly private schools) require this special form, which is essentially a supplement to the FAFSA. It can be found on the College Board’s website. That website also has the list of the schools that require it, but it's always better to check with the college directly.
o Call the financial aid offices to find out if they require any other special financial forms of their own. This is most common at private colleges. Each college has a website with all of their financial aid requirements and dates listed.
What the School Counselors Need:
o Continue checking for scholarships every week in your Naviance accounts and on our website. You can also look into scholarships through parents work, unions and you can even use Google to search for specific scholarships that you think you might qualify for ( i.e. left-handed persons, Music/art scholarships, Athletic scholarships, your ethnicity scholarships…)
o Finish up your college applications. Some early action/early decision deadlines are November 1st. REMEMBER: If you are applying Early Decision, you will have to sign an electronic letter of agreement.
- First quarter grades. Some colleges will ask students to send first quarter grades. They are interested in knowing how the student is doing in their classes at that point AND to see if they are continuing with classes that they initially listed they were taking on their applications. A google form is available to request these grades to go to colleges. That form will be located on your Senior class page.
o Try to finish your college applications as early as you can. Even if the college's official deadline is March 1, it's better to get your application into your counselor by December 15. You'll be ahead of the game and able to shift your focus to financial aid applications, scholarships and simply enjoying your senior year. Unless you thrive on stress, there is no good reason to wait until the last minute to begin working on college applications. That said, if you are in need of more time, spend your winter break really digging in and getting your applications done so that when school resumes, they are ready to go!
o If you're still applying to colleges, get those applications filled out and submitted as soon as possible, allowing at least two weeks for processing. Keep in mind counselors are often on vacation over the December break; not reviewing college applications. January 1st deadlines should be turned in to your counselor by December 15th at the latest.
**** Watch for Early action/decision notifications ( acceptance, deferral, denial). They typically begin arriving between December 15 through the 31st. *****
Review the list above. Are you on schedule? Have you skipped anything? Not on track? Stop by to see your counselor ASAP!
o Check on mid-year transcripts. Do you want to send your college mid-year transcripts? If so, we will direct you to a google form for you to fill out to request them. That form will be located on the Senior Google Class page.
0 January and February are financial aid months. Look for notification of financial aid seminars and other similar programs throughout the county and state.
o Apply for outside funding and scholarships. Keep checking for available scholarships. For example, parents might belong to organizations or work in businesses that award scholarships. Ask around. Visit Fastweb, the Internet's largest free scholarship search. And don’t forget the scholarship link on Naviance!
o Make sure your FAFSA has been completed and submitted. You can still call schools to speak to their financial aid departments.
o Watch for college acceptance notifications. They typically start arriving late March/early April.
o Compare financial aid packages from each college. If a financial aid offer is not what you expected, do not hesitate to contact the college's financial aid office to discuss your concerns. They may have the ability to adjust the offer.
o Make a decision on which college you will attend and send them your formal acceptance. MAY 1.
o May 1st - National Decision Day (and beyond):
o Submit your deposit and corresponding forms to the college you will be attending.
o Watch for important deadlines at your college of choice. These may include housing deposits, financial aid and more.
o You MUST enter in the college that you will be attending in your Naviance account otherwise the counseling office will NOT be able to send your final transcript.
GAP Year: If you decide that you want to do a gap year, after you deposit to the school that you want to attend, contact the school and let them know that you are interested in pursuing a gap year. They will instruct you on how to proceed.
Have a fun, relaxing, and safe summer and good luck in college, your apprenticeship, or career!