Six teenagers talk on the steps of their high school

For students getting ready to start their senior year in 2022, summer is an ideal time to prepare for college before their final year of high school. In addition to scheduling campus tours, there are steps your student can take this summer to make themselves more appealing for college admissions.

Studying and taking the SAT and ACT

Due to the COVID pandemic, many colleges and universities made SAT and ACT scores optional as part of their application process. If your student know what higher education institution they would like to attend, have them check with the admissions department to see what their requirements will be for the 2023-24 school year.

If the school is asking for these test scores, your child should start studying this summer for those exams.

The College Board, the organization that offers the SAT and AP exams, have listed the 2022-23 school year PSAT, SAT, and AP test dates on their website. College Board has also teamed up with Khan Academy to provide online resources for students to review as well have practice exams available.

Currently, ACT Inc. is also scheduling exam dates for the 2022-23 school year. To help students to continue to study for the exam, ACT is offering 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 type of school your child would like to attend after their 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. 529 plans can used tax free to pay for trade and vocational schools expenses as well.

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 with an associate degree. If you are looking for a way to lower your costs while earning a bachelor’s degree, a community college is a great place to start to earn more core curriculum credits, which can be transferred to a four-year college. Look at regional two-year schools to see which ones specialize in careers in which your child might be interested interested. And again, your 529 account can pay for those required costs at both the two-year and four-year colleges.

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.

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.

You can fill out the Common App starting Aug. 1, 2022, for the next school year. However, your child can prepare this summer for the application process. If your student is applying for early decision for a certain school, then the paperwork deadline will be near Nov. 1, 2022, right when your student is in the middle of their senior year studies. Therefore, it would be better to start on those forms as soon as possible this summer as to not distract them from their school work. The regular decision deadline will be around Jan. 1, 2023.

If your child’s preferred schools don’t use the Common App, visit the schools’ websites to create a timeline when the applications and accompanying paperwork are due. The higher education deadlines can sneak up once your child’s high school 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 your student’s AP test score.

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 parents as well as students. Use the longer summer days to collect information needed for the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can start filling in FAFSA beginning October 1.

FAFSA is the form used to apply for federal financial aid to attend four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, trade and vocational schools, and graduate schools. Most higher education institutes also will use the FAFSA information to determine the amount of financial aid the school 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 one. 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.

Summer scholarship search

Some scholarships usually 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. Federal Student Aid offer guidance on scholarships, including other sources to tap for more information, including the free scholarship search tool from the U.S. Department of Labor. There are many free online scholarship sites like Sallie Mae, FinAid, and FastWeb. On these sites, your child would create a profile with their academic scores, community service and volunteering, athletic and academic activities and they will be matched with scholarship applications for which they are eligible. FinAid also created a list for the more unusual scholarships that are available.

Sallie Mae also offers the Paying For College Resource. The website assembles free tools, videos and checklists to keep your family on task in preparing for your children’s higher education. It even shows what steps to take to fill out FAFSA and how to understand your financial aid letters.

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

This article was originally posted in July 2020 and has been updated to reflect new information for the summer of 2022.

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