The College Train is Leaving – Get on Board or Get Left Behind

The College Train is Leaving - Get on Board or Get Left BehindVisiting new places is always exciting, but it can be so much fun focusing on the destination that you forget what you need to do to get there in the first place. Careful planning can keep you from arriving too late, so you don’t end up watching the train leave the station.

When it comes to applying to college, students might know exactly where they want to go, but have no idea about how to get there. Deadlines are missed, applications are not completed properly, and the students either do not get accepted or do not receive enough financial aid to attend. Next thing you know, the college train is gone. Here are some things you can do to get your ticket punched for destination: college:

   Know the schedule: The first thing travelers want to know is when their transportation leaves, so they can work backwards from there to make sure they arrive on time. The same is true with college. Knowing your schedule is crucial. There are both admissions and financial aid deadlines you need to know. Miss one of these, and you’re not even on the train.

   Research your destination: You spend a good deal of time researching information on your destination when traveling because you want to find the best way to get there, and learn about what happens after you arrive. For college, this means you need to learn about the school, the campus, and the department for your major. It might mean taking a trip for a campus visit over the summer and meeting some people in person. Spend quality time with the admissions and financial aid offices, and be prepared with questions that will help you make your final decision.

   Gather your documentation: For traveling you might need a passport. The college application might require an essay, a video, letters of recommendation, or your high school transcripts. The FAFSA will require information from your 2016 federal income tax returns and supporting documentation for other forms of income. Find out what is needed and start gathering it now, so you won’t be scrambling to find paperwork when the pressure is on.

   Early is good: There are beginning times when college applications and the FAFSA are first available, and final deadlines for the latest possible time they can be filed. Try not to push it to the end because you never know what is around the corner to stop you dead in your tracks. A mistake, misinterpretation, or miscommunication can easily occur, and you’ll want to have plenty of time to fix it. An even better advantage of completing the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 is that some financial aid programs have limited dollar amounts available, and you don’t want to miss out on any eligibility.

Be prepared so you will definitely get on the college train this fall – all aboard!