College Prep Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Junior and senior year can be hectic and overwhelming. For those of you looking for some form of guidance, you have come to the right place. Embedded in this list are tips, tricks, and key pieces of advice that will hopefully help answer some of your questions or doubts concerning college.

  • FAFSA starts on October 1st for those applying for financial aid. For Connecticut, the deadline for FAFSA applications is February 15th of 2019.
  • Take your PSATs and SATs seriously, retake them if necessary. Make a mental note: if you don’t do super well in the beginning, when you retake your tests, most schools take the best scores and combine them into a super score.
  • Don’t waste your hard earned money on textbooks in college. There are a ton of reliable websites out there such as https://www.bookfinder.com/textbooks/, https://chegg.com/cheap-textbooks, https://www.amazon.com, and https://textbooks.com, for renting and buying textbooks over 60% off. Also, wait until the first day of class to buy textbooks. Sometimes professors surprise you and you don’t need the book at all!
  • Start your college essays early, to get them out of the way, or at least have your ideas set in stone if you’re a procrastinator like the rest of us.
  • Create some balance. No one is lying to you when they say that college can be time consuming, but work on time management. Take the time you do have to do other things you’re passionate about. College is an amazing experience, but not if it prohibits you from doing the things you love. Finding a balance between doing what you love and doing your academic work is what is going to make your college experience one for the books. The opposite is true as well; don’t spend too much time having fun and forget about academics!
  • It might be too late for the seniors, but to the underclassmen binge-reading all the college prep material, make sure to get involved as much as you can. Whether this is volunteering at something or joining any clubs or sports. Colleges love seeing you dedicate yourself to something.
  • Make your account and create your Common App as soon as possible, it’ll be a lifesaver when the time comes around.
  • Apply to all eligible scholarships (even if you apply for financial aid or not). Even the littlest of scholarships can add up. Most people do not even apply to smaller scholarships so you will have a higher chance of receiving them.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When it comes to applying to colleges, there are a ton of factors that colleges take into consideration when accepting students, expect the unexpected.
  • Do college tours, they’re so important. A school can seem interesting on a computer screen but seeing and experiencing the school’s environment can be completely different in person. Try to sneak in some tours during the school year. You want to try and see the campus, and students, in the same way you would when you’re potentially going there. This is harder to imagine in the summer. Talk to students while you’re there!
  • Recommendation letters (this is more geared towards underclassmen)! Make connections early on, so you’ll have a teacher who will speak highly of you when the time comes. Some teachers set a cap to how many recommendations they’ll write, so get to them early but also, make sure to write them a thank you card! There is nothing nicer than a handwritten note.
  • It’s okay to go to college undecided. If you’re in the cloud of indecision, do research, find out what suits you the best.
      • Bonus: A lot of schools have programs geared towards students who have not made their minds up about their major. For example, UCONN has a program called ACE and Ledyard High School has Naviance, which has a list of majors you can look into as well as what you can do within those majors/degrees.
  • Go where you want to go to college, not where your friends want to go. Don’t give into peer pressure.
  • Go to orientations! Put yourself out there, and be ambitious.
  • Look at how colleges accept students. For example, Rolling Admission, Early Acceptance, etc.
  • Work on your resume, it shows who you really are.
  • If you’re into sports, it can be hard to be noticed by college coaches. So if you have never played a club sport, don’t have highlight film, or are on an unnoticeable team, you can go to many different school websites and fill out a recruitment form or questionnaire for the sport to get their attention. You are also always able to personally email the head coach. After the attention is received, email the college coach about you as an athlete and student, give them your high school coaches email, ask questions, and stay in contact. Other things you can do is go to a Prospect Day for your sport so they see the pure talent in person, visit the campus and coach, watch the team play, talk to the coach in person, etc.
  • Think before you post on social media. This can be a deal breaker when it comes to colleges choosing between students.
  • Create a more sophisticated email account. No one wants to email sophialoveshugs@emailmehere.com.
  • Be besties with your guidance counselor, if you have any doubts, they will help you every step of the way.
  • Check your email. Sometimes when you sign up for college newsletters, they send free applications so you don’t have to pay the $30+ fee to even APPLY.
  • Don’t slack off in your senior year. Even if senioritis kicks in, colleges still look at your grades to see improvements.

BONUS TIP: BREATHE, everything is going to fall into place eventually.

Sarah Moynihan, Staff Writer

Senior Sarah Moynihan is a staff writer for the 2018-2019 Colonel. She is a member of the LHS volleyball team, Key Club, and one of the co-presidents for Amnesty International. In her free time, she can be caught practicing volleyball, reading, or watching the latest movie. And if you see her in the hallways of school, she is probably laughing at her own joke with her best friend Nayeli by her side.

Milliam Torres, Staff Writer

Senior Milliam Torres is a staff writer for the 2018-2019 Colonel. Although she’s not enrolled in any clubs or sports, she spends that free time hanging out with friends, watching movies, and working the 8-hour shifts her job loves to give her.

 

Author: thecolonel306

The Colonel is Ledyard High School's award-winning news magazine, serving as the student voice of LHS for almost 50 years.

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