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For students getting ready to start their senior year, summer is an ideal time to prepare for college before their final year of high school. In addition to virtual campus tours, there are many steps your student can take this summer to make themselves more appealing for college admissions.
Studying and taking the SAT and ACT
Sorry Class of 2021, but you should still study this summer to take the SAT and ACT exams.
The College Board, the organization that offers the SAT and AP exams, is offering registration for fall SAT exams, if the COVD-19 safety protocols will allow. Sign-ups began in June for the exams at the end of August as well as the rest of the calendar year. In the meantime, College Board has teamed up with Khan Academy to provide free online resources for students to review as well have practice exams available.
Currently, ACT Inc. is scheduling for the July 18 exam and other dates in the fall, if the COVD-19 safety protocols will allow. To help students to continue to study for the exam, ACT is offering digital resources like ACT Academy with Kaplan and ACT practice test at no cost.
However, before you do spend hours inside studying, check with the higher education institutions you might be interested in attending. A recent New York Times article stated that over 50 percent of four-year universities might make taking the test optional for applying to the school.
Where to earn their higher education
This summer is also a good time to figure out what higher education institution your student would like to attend after they graduate high school. If it’s a trade school or apprenticeship, start researching the best schools in their interested fields. 529s can now be used to pay for certain qualified costs for apprenticeship programs that have been accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor. If it’s a certificate program, make sure the program accepts federal financial aid so you can use your 529 plan for the program. Community colleges are also a great option to earn a higher education. If this is a path your child wants to take, look at some regional two-year programs to see which ones specialize in careers in which they might like to work.
If it’s a four-year college or university, take time this summer to research which ones are known for your child’s chosen major. You’ll also want to check out schools which are closer to home than can still fulfill their collegiate dreams, potentially at a lower price. Most higher education institutions are holding virtual school visits, virtual chat rooms with current students as well as school admissions staff. Check out the school’s website to see what options they have for your “visit.” If your child plans to play collegiate sports, make sure they register with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Prepare to fill in the Common Application
Nearly 900 higher education institutions use a single application for admissions, called the Common App. To get started, set up an account this summer and see what paper and other information is needed to complete the application. The other documents can include letters of recommendations, high school transcripts, and test scores. Your child will also need to select which schools they eventually want this application sent. This is another good reason why to virtually visit these schools this summer.
You can start to officially fill out the Common App on Aug. 1, but your child can take the time now to prepare their college essays in advance. Early application deadlines usually run through October and November, right when your student is in the middle of their senior year studies.
If the school where which your child would like go doesn’t use the Common App, visit to schools’ websites to create a timeline when all the applications and accompanying paperwork are due. The deadlines can sneak up on you once their senior year begins.
How To Save For College With Senior Year Classes
As your student is choosing classes for their senior year, encourage them to focus on challenging electives that can make them more attractive to a college recruiter. In fact, there are classes that can help them earn college credit while in high school, which will save you money in the long run.
Advanced Placement (AP) classes give your student an opportunity to potentially earn college credits while still meeting his or her high school graduation requirements. At the end of the course, your child will need to take the AP exam in order to receive college credits. A score of 3 or above will earn corresponding college credit at any of Ohio’s institutions of higher education. Ohio Department of Higher Education hosts an interactive website where you can look up what credit will be granted at each of Ohio’s colleges and universities.
For Ohioans, ODHE offers College Credit Plus (CCP) as an opportunity for Ohio students in grades 7-12 to earn college credit by taking classes offered through public community colleges and universities, as well as private colleges and universities. These credits may also count toward their high school graduation requirements. Check the CCP website for deadlines and instructions. For more information, visit CCP’s FAQ section.
Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2 aligns career-technical education offered at high schools to specific college courses at public community colleges and universities in the state of Ohio. To be eligible for credit, students must complete their program, pass the end of course assessment(s) and/or earn an industry-recognized credential, and matriculate to the participating college or university of their choice.
Apply for scholarships
Some scholarships have deadlines a year out from when the dollars are released. If your student would like to earn these scholarships to help cover their college costs, then they will need to fill out the application the summer before their senior year of high school. It takes time to do the research to find all the available scholarships for which your student may be qualified to augment college savings. To get started, visit Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, which offers guidance on scholarships, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool. There are many free online scholarship sites like Sallie Mae, FastWeb, and FinAid.org. Sallie Mae also recently started the Paying For College Resource. The website assembles free tools, videos and checklists to keep your family as you all move forward in preparing for your children’s higher education. Remember, you shouldn’t have to pay to apply for a scholarship.
Prepare For FAFSA
This one is for you parents as well. Use the longer summer days to collect the information needed to fill in the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can start filling in FAFSA beginning October 1.
FAFSA is the application used to apply for need-based federal financial aid to attend four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, vocational schools, and graduate schools. Most colleges will use the FAFSA information to determine the amount of financial aid they will also provide to students.
Federal student aid is available in a variety of forms. Need-based federal financial aid is typically offered in the form of grants, scholarships, subsidized loans, or work-study. Before you accept any aid, make sure you understand the financial commitments that come with each of them. A Pell Grant will not have to be repaid. Federally subsidized student loans and parental loans must be repaid with interest. Work-study programs allow enrolled students to work part-time to earn money for college costs.
Most colleges will use the FAFSA information to determine the amount of financial aid they will provide to students.
Summertime is a great time to prepare for your child’s next steps to their higher education. If you would like to take some steps to prepare their higher education as well, check out Ohio’s tax-free 529 Plan —The Plan That Can.
Posted on June 24, 2020