Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to Stay Ahead of those College Applications

Students who aren't prepared, spend much of their senior year playing catch up. Here are a few steps you can take to stay ahead of the game.
Get the Docs
Most colleges and universities require students to submit official copies of their high school transcripts. Some high schools are able to issue transcripts immediately, while others take longer. Try ordering your transcripts during your winter break. Some of your school's administrative staff will still be in the office. Order several copies of your official transcript, but do NOT open the envelope when you receive them. Doing so will automatically make them unofficial, and most colleges won't accept them.

See the Doctor
Colleges and universities require students to submit proof of immunization and vaccinations. Your high school will have a copy of your most recent vaccination record. Depending on the state where you are applying, you may be required to receive additional vaccinations. Use holidays and other time off from school to get these shots and update your medical records. If you have a negative reaction to the vaccines, you won't miss valuable class time. As you may be applying to various colleges, be sure to obtain several sealed copies of your vaccination records.
It may be too late for you to apply for Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school. However, your local community college may allow high school juniors and seniors to enroll in classes. Many times, the student may be able to receive high school and college credit for the same course.
Often, students and parents won't make college decisions until they know how much college will cost and how much aid they are eligible for from the government and other sources. Unfortunately, students cannot submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) until after Jan. 1. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Education has a free resource, the FAFSA4caster, that allows parents and students to obtain an estimate of how much financial aid they may be eligible for during the next academic year.
Do your parents' taxes
Many adults tend to wait until the April 15 deadline to file their taxes. However, parents with college-bound students should file taxes as soon after Jan. 1 as possible, because tax forms are used to complete the FAFSA.