Make sure your parents file their taxes as early in the spring semester (after January) as possible – you’ll need your tax info when you apply for federal and state financial aid.
Even if you don’t think your family will qualify, be sure to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Do this as soon after January 1 as possible.
If you have trouble completing the FAFSA, watch for free events, like College Goal Sunday, where you can find experts to help you complete and file the paperwork.
Complete the application for state financial aid.
Keep looking for scholarships – even if you aren’t the star student or star athlete. Some scholarships aren’t based on merit. And some application deadlines are early in the senior year, so don’t put this off.
Keep saving. If you haven’t been saving, start now – every little bit helps.
Talk to your counselor to make sure you’re on track.
Continue to take the challenging courses that will put you on track to be college-ready. These include challenging core courses (math, English, science, and social science) and the right electives (foreign language, computer, arts, etc.).
Beware of Senioritis! Don’t slack off now.
EVEN if you have completed all the courses needed for graduation and for college, you should still take advanced courses your senior year. With math and other subjects, you use it or lose it.
Stay focused, and keep up your grades. High school grades are very important to some schools.
Take the ACT as early as possible in the fall. Keep in mind that some colleges have early application deadlines, so make sure the standardized tests are taken in time for the test scores to reach the college by their deadline. Some colleges, especially out-of-state, prefer or require the SAT I, so be aware that you may need to take it as well. If you are unhappy with your scores, you can take it again.
If you excel in a subject, take the AP exam at the end of the year. Even if your school doesn’t offer AP courses, or if you home-school, you can still take the AP exams.
Know the deadlines for submitting admissions and financial aid applications.
Continue to visit college campuses. Go back for a second or third visit to campuses you really like. If you have the opportunity, attend events, such as plays, concerts, sporting events, or activities related to your major.
Gather applications to the schools you are considering and keep track of the deadlines for admission, scholarships, and housing.
Develop a plan to pay for college. If you need financial aid, ask your guidance counselor and teachers about scholarships and get the applications. Keep checking back periodically throughout the year for information on the latest scholarships.
Complete your college applications. Be aware of application deadlines and submit all required information as early as possible.
If possible, visit the campuses of colleges you have applied to.
Once you have selected the college you want to attend and have been accepted, be sure to confirm your acceptance.
Attend a financial aid workshop with your parents or family members.
Fill out the Free application for Federal Student Aid (as soon after Jan. 1 as possible) to qualify for need-based grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans.
Once you have chosen your school and have been accepted, get familiar with the campus and what you will need when you get there. Research housing options, course selection and scheduling, faculty and advisers, transportation, orientation programs, and supplies you will need.
If you will be living on campus, make sure you complete the housing applications on time.
Be aware of important upcoming dates like registration, freshmen orientation, and payment deadlines.
Continue to learn more about the careers that interest you, so you will be ready to select a major.
Look for job-shadowing opportunities, such as “bring your child to work day” or internships.
Sign up for career-based programs and summer camps for high-school students at Mississippi colleges – there are lots of fun options.
Beyond the Classroom
Participate in music, art, clubs, sports, or other activities, and pursue leadership positions when possible. Extracurricular activities help you figure out what you do and don’t like. You’ll meet new people, learn new things, and develop skills in leadership and teamwork. They also make you a well-rounded person.
Volunteer. Volunteering is not only a wonderful way to give back to the community, but volunteering gives you an avenue for exploring different types of work environments.
Try to limit TV, video games, and computer time. Sounds like no fun, but your future successful self will thank you.
Look into summer camps and other programs held at Mississippi colleges and universities. Being on a university campus is fun, and you’ll likely learn a lot about yourself.