My eldest son has finished his K-12 homeschool education, and is now embarking on the next phase of his life: college. Gary already posted a comprehensive article on paying for college, and here are a few tips I took away from a meeting with a college admissions officer. I learned from high school homeschooling that it is never too soon to start planning for college. If you wait until junior or senior year you are in for a sweaty scramble and more stress than you need.
- Sophomore year seriously explore possible careers. Talk to professionals, other adults, youth pastor, go on a mission trip. Volunteer, and arrange field trips to various industries.
- Stack up CLEP credits: some colleges will transfer up to 30 credits. Not all universities accept CLEP, so check first. AP classes are another possibility to explore.
- Junior year visit colleges and college fairs.
- Senior year are for your serious colleges visits with overnights. Call admissions office to arrange with visit coordinator. The Admission counselor is an excellent resource, often an alumni from the school.
- Connect with the financial aid office, ask what scholarships are available.
- Don’t let the sticker price shy you away. Lots of funny money and price drops when offer comes in.
- Application deadlines: don’t miss them (we did by just a few days for one college choice). Must send final high school transcript after graduation.
- Merit scholarships: higher GPA/SAT the better. Take PSAT fall of Junior year, SAT Fall and early Spring of Senior year.
- Look for scholarships early. Start local with your community (smaller pool), then spread out to national.
- Start applying to colleges fall of Senior year.
- Don’t pay anyone to help you find scholarships. They use the same tools that are available to you.
- FAFSA due by March 1st. No Pell grant for 125 K+ household incomes.
- Junior year start taking college courses for dual credit. English 101, math, psychology good choices. One semester of college=1 full year of homeschool credit.
Remember: higher education is an investment. Choose a career that you enjoy, but one that you will also have a good chance of finding work after graduation. Otherwise what good is a college degree if you can’t find a job in the field?
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Have any more college planning tips? Please share in the comments.
Here is Denise Ames from College Common Sense: a resource for college planning