Four Tips to Prepare for College Application Season
by Dr. Kristina Wright and Rosie Simpson
It’s officially fall, and the back-to-school buzz has begun to wear off. Pretty soon, you or your student will be a senior in high school, embarking on a special journey: exploring colleges and working on college applications.
You might already know higher education is the right choice for you and feel excitement for college application season. You might be thinking, ‘is college right for me?’ and need more information to make an informed choice. Or, you might have other thoughts or even concerns around your next steps after high school graduation.
Whether you’re excited, nervous, or somewhere in between, it’s never too early to start thinking about and preparing for what’s coming your way.
Here are a few tips and resources to help high school students and families figure out the college process. It can be complicated – and we are here to support you!
1. Meet with your high school counselor or academic advisor, early and often
Relationship building is an important life skill that will aid you in accomplishing your goals long after high school. Find the appropriate person on your campus and set a regular time to meet with them.
Allow them to get to know you so they can recommend best fit colleges and universities and have a good understanding of who you are for your letters of recommendation. They can also help you identify academic or extra-curricular areas for growth that can strengthen your competitiveness on applications.
2. Look beyond graduation requirements to college specific requirements
Not only do you want to make sure that you complete all the requirements for graduation from your high school, but to be eligible to apply to college, you must also ensure that you complete admission requirements for each school to which you are applying.
Check out some of these examples:
- California State University (CSU) admission requirements
- University of California (UC) admission requirements
- Private colleges and universities might offer different requirements that you can find on their websites (for example: Pitzer College)
3. Do your research and plan ahead
College can be for you! Websites such as bigfuture.collegeboard.org allow you to create a free account to search for colleges and universities based on factors including your location preference, major choice, and grade point average, or GPA. The website also allows you to research college costs, discover options to pay for college, and apply for scholarships.
Once you have an idea of what you need to do to apply: create a plan. Include using your breaks and summer(s) to take courses at your local community college to start earning college credit, find an internship or job opportunity and/or a program on a college campus to give you a feel for what it’s like to be in college.
4. Communicate your needs and plans with your family
Start talking with your family about your interests and the steps you will all need to take to apply and choose your best fit college. Use the information you discovered in your research as talking points.
Talk about the costs associated with going to particular colleges you are interested in and the opportunities to receive funding if you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, or the California Dream Act application, and apply for scholarships.
Regardless of where you might be in your process of considering college and your future after high school graduation, these tips will support you in diversifying your options and planning ahead to make the most informed decisions about your future.
We will be providing more resources and information throughout your journey!
- Thinking about college? Follow these steps for juniors preparing for college from the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
- Looking for resources? The I’m First! website provides a community and resources that are specific to first-generation college students.
- Still wondering if college is for you and what the benefits might be? Visit the Federal Student Aid’s Preparing for College webpage.
- Check out California State Universities’ webpage with tips on how to prepare for college throughout high school.
- Trying to narrow down which college is right for you? Read these three tips on choosing the right fit for college from Making Waves Foundation.
ABOUT MAKING WAVES FOUNDATION
With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating more than 1,100 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 500 Wave-Maker alumni.
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