College Planning Timeline for Senior Year
· Begin the year by again checking your schedule of courses for high school graduation and college admission requirements.
· Set up a calendar of school holidays, activities, and important dates so you can plan your senior year more efficiently.
· Finalize your high school resume listing of all your accomplishments, activities, athletic awards and honors, volunteer and paid work experience during your first three years of high school. You will use your resume for college visits, admission interviews, and scholarship applications.
· If you plan to participate in Division I or Division II athletics in college, complete the NCAA Clearinghouse Certification process. You may also want to check with your counselor to make sure you are taking and/or have signed up for the core curriculum that meets NCAA Clearinghouse requirements.
· Begin researching sources of financial assistance and scholarships for college. You can attain this information from the colleges themselves and from internet searches.
· Make a list of 3 to 5 colleges that meet the criteria you seek in a college (cost, size, location, distance from home, majors, academic rigor, housing, etc). If you are not sure how to go about narrowing down a list of colleges, there are a number of websites such as FastWeb.com that contain college search programs designed to assist you.
· Visit the website of each of these colleges and collect information about their entrance requirements, application procedures, tuition and fees, room and board costs, financial aid, etc.
· Meet with the college recruiters that visit the school weekly and plan to attend the Ridgeland High School College and Career Night Program in September.
· Apply to those colleges that you are most interested in.
· Keep a record of everything submitted to each college and be mindful of admissions, housing, scholarships, and financial aid deadline dates. Call or email the college if you have any doubt about them receiving your applications or if you have not heard back from them after a few weeks.
· Arrange to visit each of the colleges you are considering. You want to visit on a typical college school day (Monday-Friday) and can set up your visit through the college admissions office or the college recruiter. Remember that RHS allows two (2) excused college days for seniors.
· If recommendations are required, identify at least two of the following to write recommendation forms for you: a teacher, an extracurricular advisor, a counselor, a principal, or an employer. Be sure to give the recommendation form and a copy of your high school resume to the individuals you select at least two weeks before they are due. Follow up on the progress of these recommendations.
· If needed, complete the preparation of any essays, portfolios, audition tapes, etc. required for college admission and/or for scholarships.
· Plan and register for a good date to take the ACT Assessment or SAT Test. Since many colleges have early application and/or scholarship deadlines, it is recommended that you test at least once during the fall semester. Information about the test dates, registration deadlines, and costs may be found at their websites www.actstudent.org or www.collegeboard.com.
· Spend some time preparing and or participating in a testing workshop before your scheduled test date. Remember that the higher your test score, the more likely you are to gain admission to the college of your choice and possibly qualify for scholarship money.
· Stay involved in school and community-service activities.
· Strive to make the best grades possible in every class you are taking. Use this year to improve your grade point average and class rank. Colleges will require you to send a copy of a 7-semester transcript showing the grades you earned first semester and often will base admission or scholarships on these grades.
· As soon as possible after January 1st, apply for financial aid by completing and submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You and your parents will need to have your tax returns completed early in order to complete and submit this application. You do not have to mail your income tax returns any earlier than normal, but cannot fill out the FAFSA without having completed you tax return first. The FAFSA application is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
· If you are not certain that you will qualify for financial assistance and would like to get an idea about your eligibility first, go to the FAFSA forecaster and www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can use the information from the current or previous tax year to get an estimate of what your federal assistance eligibility might be.
· Submit any additional financial aid forms and documentation that may be required by the school of your choice. Most of these forms can be found on the college financial aid website.
· Complete any remaining college admissions and request that a copy of your 7-semester transcript be sent to all your colleges. Remember that a college is not going to offer a financial aid package to any student that has not applied for admission to their institution.
· After submitting your FAFSA application, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) back from the processor. Check over the information on your SAR carefully and if anything is incorrect, make the necessary corrections and resubmit it to the processing center.
· Fill out the applications for the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) and Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG) at www.mississippi.edu. The eligibility criteria for these programs can be found on this website.
· Pay attention to daily announcements, the monthly senior newsletters, and the weekly senior emails for local area scholarships that you are eligible to apply for.
· Register for the Advanced Placement (AP) tests, if needed.
· Anticipate receiving the financial aid offers from your college(s) sometime in March or April.
· Review your financial aid award letter with your parents and be sure that you understand the terms and conditions that accompany each kind of aid. Sign your financial aid award letter and return it to the school.
· Decide which college you will be attending and notify that school regarding your decision. Don’t forget to also notify the schools that you will not attend as to your decision.
· If you will be receiving a student or parent loan, select a lending institution and complete all the necessary paperwork and loan applications.
· Be aware of your college’s due dates for tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses.
· Find out exactly how your financial aid will be disbursed and whether you can defer payments until the funds are available.
· Respond immediately to all correspondence regarding school, scholarships, and financial aid.
· If you are planning on attending one of the local college summer school programs, check with that college about course offerings and pre-registration dates.
· Make sure to get your college immunization form (certificate of compliance) filled out and submitted to the college you will attend in the fall.
· If your college has a freshman summer orientation program, sign up to attend an orientation session.
· Be sure to fill out the final transcript form (will be given out at Class Day practice) indicating where you want your final transcript mailed after graduation.
· Dual Enrollment Students: Remember that you must request that Holmes mail a copy of your college transcript (courses taken & grades) to the college you will attend in the fall.
· Pre-Register for your fall semester classes.
· Write thank you notes for all senior gifts and for any scholarships you have received.
· If interested, sign up for sorority or fraternity rushes and get recommendations from local alumni.
· Meet with your college roommate to make a list of what you will need to take with you for your residence hall room.