High School Seniors Can Prep For College This Summer
For students getting ready to start their senior year in 2021, 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
For the 2021-22 school year, many colleges and universities made SAT and ACT scores optional as part of their application process due to COVID. If you know what higher education institution your student would like to attend, check with their admissions department to see what their protocol will be for the 2022-23 school year.
If the school that your student want to attend is asking for these test scores, your child will need to start preparing for those exams this summer.
The College Board, the organization that offers the SAT and AP exams, is continually updating their website to provide current PSAT, SAT, and AP exam schedules, as well as registration for fall SAT exams, as COVD-19 safety protocols allow. In the meantime, College Board has teamed up with Khan Academy to provide online resources for students to review as well have practice exams available.
Currently, ACT Inc. is scheduling exam dates for the fall, as COVD-19 safety protocols 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.
Planning for their higher education
This summer is also a good time to figure out what institution of higher education your student would like to attend after high school graduation. If it’s a trade school or apprenticeship, start researching the best schools and programs in their fields or interest. 529s can 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 regional two-year schools to see which ones specialize in careers in which they’re interested.
If it’s a four-year college or university, take time this summer to research which ones are known for your child’s major. You’ll also want to be sure to research schools closer to home than can still fulfill their collegiate dreams, potentially at a lower price. Last summer, most higher education institutions held virtual school visits, and virtual chat rooms with current students as well as school admissions staff. This summer, in-person visits may be allowed. Check out the school’s website to see what your options are.
If your child plans to play collegiate sports, you must register them with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). By setting up a NCAA account, you will get access to the process you will need to complete in order to play at a collegiate level as well as make official visits to the school that your child is interested in attending. You will receive reminders about deadlines for the schools and forms you need to fill in.
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 information is needed to complete the application. These documents can include letters of recommendations, high school transcripts, and test scores. Your child will also need to select what schools they will want to send their application.
Yet another good reason why to visit in-person or virtually these schools during the summer.
You can start to officially fill out the Common App on Aug. 1, 2021, for the 2022 school year. However, your child can prepare now for the application process. 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 school websites to create a timeline when all the applications and accompanying paperwork are due. The deadlines can sneak up on you once senior year begins.
Choosing The Right 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. There are even 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 credit while still meeting their 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 also 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 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.
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 federal financial aid to attend four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, vocational schools, and graduate schools. Most higher education institutes also will use the FAFSA information to determine the amount of financial aid they will 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.
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.
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, CollegeAdvantage. Learn, plan and start an Ohio 529 Plan today at CollegeAdvantage.com.
This article was originally posted in July 2020 and has been updated to reflect new information for 2021.
Posted on July 12, 2021