Recently we’ve talked about volunteering, sports recruitment and staying active in the summer, but as summer starts winding down it is time to get back into college prep mode. Below are a few things you should be doing RIGHT NOW if you are heading to or applying to college this fall … just find your year and check off each item as you complete it over the next month.  By the time school starts back up this fall you will be glad you did!


College Freshman

  • Sign on to your account on your college’s webpage and make sure you’ve completed all necessary steps to be able to attend this fall: accepted financial aid awarded, completed loan entrance counseling, signed the Master Promissory Note, arranged tuition payments and have your class schedule finalized.  Sit down or have a phone call with your academic advisor if you have questions about your schedule and apply for private loans now if you will need them- they take time to process.
  • If you plan to live in the dorms, contact your roommate.  Find out what is acceptable to bring with you to college and decide who will bring what so your room is not overfilled with unnecessary doubles.
  • Shop early! If you wait until the last minute, you might not get everything you need or want.  If you live a distance from the campus where you will attend, find out if you can ship to a store closer to campus.  This way you can order online and then pick up your purchase when you get into town.  This is especially useful if you plan to travel by air to your campus.
  • Buy your books.  Again, don’t wait until the last minute; you will likely pay more if you do.  If you plan ahead you can find the ISBN for each book you will need and can shop around online.  Many college and online bookstores now offer textbook rentals and electronic copies of text as well.  These options can be a huge money saver!

High School Senior:

  • Stay (or Get) Focused!  The more you prepare now, the easier your fall will be, this is especially important if you are an athlete and plan to play a fall sport.  Right now your focus should be on narrowing your list of colleges to those where you will apply this fall.  While visiting colleges is best in the spring or fall, you have time now to make some of the far reaching college visits that you may not be able to fit into your schedule once school resumes.
  • Decide where you will apply.  You should have a list of 6-10 colleges where you plan to apply before school starts this fall; you can always made adjustments to this list, but you should be finalizing your list now, not just starting your search!
  • Start gathering and completing college applications.  Some colleges have released their applications, most, including the Common Application, will be released August 1st.  You can print a draft now and fill it in by hand so you know exactly what you will list when the actual application is released.
  • Prep your essay(s).  The essay is usually the most time consuming and intimidating part of the entire application.  Try to have your essay in its final draft before school starts.   All you’ll need to do is have a couple teachers proof the essay, make some small adjustments and submit! Having this out of the way will allow you time to focus on school work and scholarship applications.
  • Pay attention to deadlines; make a spreadsheet or calendar to keep track of all deadlines.  Most seniors will take the SAT or ACT in the fall; you will need to take the September or October test to meet some college deadlines.  You may need to submit your application early, not Early Decision, but early to qualify for honors or certain scholarship programs.  Remember- you might have the best application out there, but if you miss a deadline, you will not be considered at that college.
  • Apply for Scholarships. While your first focus should be the college admissions applications, don’t forget about scholarships.  You don’t want to spend all your time looking and applying for them, but dedicate an hour or two a week to searching online and within your community for scholarship money.  A great free website for scholarships is  Also be sure to check with your school’s office, local organizations and businesses.

Will you be a High School Junior, Sophomore or Freshman this fall?  Check back next week for our checklists for you!

Image courtesy of: