There is a fair amount of time for a college bound high school junior to be thinking about college. But if a family does not take advantage of this time, there will be plenty of seniors in a panic at this point next year. A well planned timeline can help a junior properly prepare for college.
Standardized Test Prep
If the college bound student has not yet taken a standardized test, this should be done as soon as possible. Completing the ACT and/or SAT will help the family understand the potential colleges they should consider. Perhaps your student hit a ‘homerun’ the first time they took the ACT. This will alleviate much of the stress of trying for higher scores when engaged in the college selection process. If the score is not what a student would have hoped, do not worry, a student can take the exam as many times as they wish. Perhaps purchasing some test prep booklets, using an online test preparation course or even working with a tutor would benefit the student to raise their score.
College Fairs and Reps
The time is here for a student to actively engage in the college selection process. This can be done by talking to college admission representatives. Your high school junior should personally converse with as many colleges as they can in order to gain a proper perspective on the types of schools and their offerings. Students can do this when admission representatives come to their high school to ‘recruit’ students or by seeking out a local college fair.
Begin to examine your financial accounts to determine the amount that can be used to pay for college. Consider how much has been earned in a college saving program and how far that will stretch. Will this be able to pay for four years at a university or will loans have to be considered? Perhaps the time is now to begin searching for scholarships. If nothing else, shift as much money as possible out of the college bound student’s name by the end of the calendar year, the first semester of junior year. This is because when filling out financial aid forms, including the government’s form (2/4/13 blog post) fall of senior year, you will use the previous year’s tax returns. Thus, the student’s financial situation will be required and these forms assume that money in the student’s name will be used for college. This will then lower the amount of your financial aid package.