A checklist for college-bound rising seniors

Four months remain until the deadline for UC and CSU applications. Many of the early action/decision application deadlines are in early November. In an effort to keep the sanity during the senior year, it is important that families begin the application process in the summer.  Below is a checklist for students and families to begin a tedious process of applying to a four year university.

  • Register for the ACT or SAT and two (2) SAT Subject tests. The SAT Subject Tests are strongly recommended for UC schools and any private school in California and many schools outside of California.  Find more information at http://www.collegeboard.org or http://www.actstudent.org. Students that qualify for the free/reduced lunch at school are eligible for a fee waiver to take these important tests.
  • Surf the internet to find college scholarships and financial aid information. Some programs and companies begin advertising scholarship opportunities early, be the first to request an application! Remember to check your school’s website for event dates specifically on financial aid and FAFSA assistance. More on scholarships to come in a future post.
  • Make sure you will meet the “A-G” requirements. There are 15 high school courses that students must take to meet the minimum admissions requirements for UC, CSU, and most other schools.   Be sure to review courses completed and speak with a counselor about other recommended courses that can help the transcript stand out.
  • Students must earn a grade of C or better in all A-G courses to be eligible for admission to the university. Students must also complete the required courses for high school graduation. I have been witness to students who received a rejection letter in the summer because of missing high school graduation requirements.
  • Finish your essays for college admission. Have your family/friends/counselor re-read the essay and offer insight on what would best describe you within the word limit.  Sign up for the college office workshops and check your high school website calendar for important information and events happening in the college office. Most high schools have several visits from colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Take advantage of the visits in the fall to connect with an admissions officer from schools where you intend to submit applications.
  • Invest in a wall calendar. On that calendar, make note of all college application deadlines for schools to which you will apply.  Use the calendar during the year for any other deadlines or due dates (Cal Grant, scholarship deadlines, transcript requests, testing, etc).
  • Letters of Recommendations: Narrow down which teachers you will ask to write a letter of recommendations for private universities and scholarships. UC and CSU applications do not require recommendations but applications for certain programs within these systems will ask for references.
  • Create your resume. Be prepared with this resume/brag sheet when you return from summer break. Students may use resume templates on MS Word or stop by the college office this summer for assistance on how to create your resume/brag sheet.
  • Create an email account solely for your college application and scholarship related materials. Most schools and programs have taken to communicating with students only via email.  The email address is oftentimes also your password for various sites.  Keep all this material in one safe place online so you don’t have to search in several locations for information.  Keep the email address simple to remember and professional enough to use for communicating with schools.
  • Stay organized! Keep files for each school, scholarship or program.  Make note of anything sent or received from each school.  Save yourself procrastination-induced stress and prepare for the college application process before it begins!

Please contact counselorgarza@gmail.com with any questions about the application process.

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