Planning for College
One of the hardest parts of applying to college is keeping track of all the different deadlines and organizing a lot of new information on unfamiliar subjects such as tuition, financial aid and choosing college courses.
Before beginning, purchase a paper calendar or find an online calendar tool you like using. Deadlines for financial aid, applications, college tour registration, orientation sign ups and all kinds of other dates will crop up continually during the college application process.
Write everything down in a place where you’ll be able to find it easily and keep track of what is coming up in the next month or two. This simple step will help you stay organized when it counts the most.
You should also write down terms you hear that you don’t understand so you can look them up later. Knowing the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized loan or understanding how college credits work will aid you enormously in these first steps in your college journey.
¡HACER! provides plenty of free and comprehensive support for Miami-Dade County high school students in the form of college readiness workshops, financial aid application assistance, SAT/ACT preparation and more. Visit our calendar to find out about upcoming events in your area.
You can seek out advisement at your college as well. Both FIU and MDC have advisement departments ready to assist you with questions about anything from what to expect your first year in college to how to get the best grades to exploring a career path. MDC’s is here while FIU’s is here.
Students can download ¡HACER! resources for specific grades here:
11th Grade Checklist12th Grade Checklist
Lastly, organizing all the steps into chronological order will allow you to plot the important dates on your calendar and work towards meeting those deadlines for your college applications. Use this master checklist to make sure you are prepared to apply, attend and pay for college from A-Z.
Selecting a College
- Decide what type of degree you would like to earn and find colleges that offer programs well-known for this degree
- Research several different colleges and see how they match up to your ideal program to compare features
- Schedule a campus tour to get a feel for your college and learn about your program face to face
- Ask the faculty in your department about their program and about what kinds of jobs are available for alumni of your program
- Try to make connections with alumni, either through your social circle or by attending an alumni panel at your potential college
- Evaluate the costs of the college you want to attend and weigh your financial options
The College Application Process
- Request application forms from the colleges you are interested in (visit FIU’s enrollment page; MDC’s enrollment page)
- Find out the early deadline and regular deadline to apply, put both on your calendar
- Give yourself plenty of time to fill out your applications, collect your transcripts and write your personal essays
- Fill out the FAFSA and submit it to the Department of Education
- Request letters of recommendation from teachers, employers or another professional reference
- Request that your high school transcript be sent to the college you are applying to
- Request any midyear grade reports be sent to the college you are applying to
- Send in any ACT, SAT or AP test scores to your college
- Fill out your college application
- Review your college application
- Write your personal essays
- Allow several people to read, edit and give you feedback on your personal essays
- Make copies of everything before you send it in with your application packet and keep it all filed away in case you need it later
- Send in your personal essays and letters of recommendation along with your completed application
- Include any application fees required by your college
- Schedule interviews at the college
- Attend your interview
- Send a thank you note to your interviewer
- Receive your acceptance letter
- Request your final transcripts be sent to your college
- Send a deposit to your college
- Attend any summer orientation programs offered
- Determine whether you will live at home, in on-campus housing or off-campus
- Research the costs of each, including transportation costs to and from your campus
- If you decide on student housing on your campus, make sure to turn in any request forms to your college
- If you decide to live off-campus, look for ads for housing in your desired area and check out your college’s website for more resources, such as this one from FIU