Understanding the steps
In middle School: The simple act of speaking about college will increase a child’s interests and let them know that higher education is an important step into adulthood. Encouraging a love of learning is what this time is all about.
In early high school: It is about planning. The goal is to keep many options open so a student has multiple choices later in the processes. If a student already has a love for math or science or writing, add enriching opportunities. If a student wants to explore, let them. But in the early stages it is important that the family understands what is possible and the steps necessary to maximize opportunities.
In late high school: It is about making sure the student is on track. The ACT or SAT should be taken in 11th grade, if the student is very strong academically then the PSAT can lead to significant financial aid. For homeschoolers or for students who wish to attend selective schools subject tests are important. This is also a good time to take on more challenging courses such as AP or dual enrollment. Students should be touring local colleges to get an idea of their “type”, attending fairs, and speaking to admissions officers. If the family can afford to travel take some out of state tours.
The summer between Junior and Senior year is a good time to start on essays. If possible take more tours.
Senior Year: This is when the student will apply. College have a variety of deadlines depending on scholarships, early decision or action, and final deadlines. Private and public schools have different application procedures and deadlines. Parents will fill out the FAFSA and the CSS Profile and students will work on supplemental essays. It is important that all financial aid documents are submitted on time! Students will have a small break before admission and financial aid decisions roll in. By April 1st the student will know where they CAN go, but May 1st the student will choose where they WILL go.