Trust Me, You Won't Regret Reading This!

by Kayla Edwards
(Brunswick, GA, United States)

Are you planning on going to college but have just kept putting everything off and telling yourself that you’ll eventually get to it? Well if you keep telling yourself this, college will creep up on you before you even realize it and you’ll be so overwhelmed by everything. It’s in your best interest to get a head start! No, this doesn’t mean that you’re being an over-achiever-beaver, it just means that you’re taking responsibility for your life and your future. I’m here to tell you some things that no one told me and if they had, it would have made things a lot more simple and easy for me in the long run. This may look like a lot to read and you don’t feel like reading it right now so you’re just going to move onto the next website, but trust me, YOU WANT TO READ THIS!

Thanks for staying, you won’t regret it and when you’re done reading this, you’ll be thanking yourself that you did. I’m just here to try and help any high school kids that were just as overwhelmed with all the college applications and information as I was. I’m currently 17 and a senior so I’m just a normal kid like you! I’m not some adult or professor writing this, thinking that they’re being helpful but really, they’re just wasting everyone’s time. I know you’ll relate to the things I’m telling you, and if you’re just starting high school, you’ll definitely benefit from the things I talk about.

So we’ll obviously begin with freshman year. When I was a freshman, I was taking the SAT and ACT. Some people don’t even take these tests until their senior year! Word to the wise, DON’T wait till your senior year to take these tests! If you start off taking them your freshman year, you can take them one time each year so you’ll have plenty of time to improve your scores so that you can have the best overall score possible! So many of my friends wish that they would have started when I did!

Your sophomore year is definitely a weird one because you’re not an upperclassman but yet you’re not the fresh meat anymore. You can’t really make any major decisions during your sophomore year but you can still take your SAT and ACT. Also, you should just stay aware of any scholarships that may be offered to sophomores in high school. Yes, scholarships like this do exist!

As for my junior year, I was looking up scholarships and getting well aware with which the college I wanted to attend and what I was going to major in. You might be thinking to yourself, well I can just do all of that my senior year. Well no, you really can’t… Your junior year is the year that you need to be making all of your major decisions. This is what I wish someone would have told me my junior year, so I’m here to help you out. Why your junior year you ask? Well, your junior year is when you need to start looking at and touring schools you’re interested in and doing your research on a major that you have in mind. This is when a College Board account comes into handy because it has so much information that is helpful to any student who has no idea where to start with all of the college mumbo jumbo. If you decide on what school you want to go to and what you’re going to be majoring in, then you’re senior year will be for actually applying to that school and maybe even taking extra classes that could help you out with your major. Also, we all look forward to our senior year and having fun so you’ll have less to do and trust me, you won’t want to have to cram all of this in last minute.

Starting early just makes the whole process easier on you in the long run. Start off by getting with your school councilor and making a GAcollege411 page. No matter what other helpful websites you visit, you WILL need an account for this website because you can’t apply to some colleges without it! Everyone always tells you to keep up with your username and password, well listen to them because you’ll needing them! Like I said earlier, College Board is another website that I highly recommend making an account for. They offer help with scholarships, financial aid, and basically anything that has to do with college. An email account
is also something that you will need. Yes I know, you probably already have an email because you have Facebook and Twitter but it’s in your best interest to make a separate email account just for college stuff. Yet again, trust me, all of the scholarship emails and emails from different colleges will over flow your regular email. The number one major thing I would suggest you keep in mind is DEADLINES! Deadlines are basically the most important thing that has to do with colleges because if you miss them, colleges and scholarship programs don’t care. This is now the real world and you won’t get any special pass for missing a deadline. Do your research and always mark deadlines! I would always put every deadline on my iPhone calendar, that way, even if I didn’t really need it, it would still be there and remind me! Better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re reading this and you’re worried about finances for college, or you don’t even think you’re going to college because you know that there is no one that you’re family will be able to pay for it, there is hope on your horizon! FAFSA is a program that provides financial aid and this is your best bet to getting money because they offer a lot to students that have a really low family income or even if you’re from a family that does ok, like myself, you can still be eligible to receive money. You’d be surprised by all the different scholarships that are out there! There are scholarships for short people, left handed people, minorities, creative people, short essay contests, brown eyed people, powerful women, movie contests, athletes, and so much more! You will find all of these scholarships on both of the sites I mentioned earlier or if you just start early and do your research!! October and November are the two best months to get started on your scholarship research because it’s when most scholarships open for the next school year. Some helpful scholarship sites that provide so many random scholarships are:,, and These are only a few though; there are so many more sites!

I’m not leaving anyone out so anyone with disabilities, there is so much available for you too! I have a sleep disorder called Narcolepsy and I had to go through so much paper work to apply for disability at the college I chose to go to. Your first step would be to pick a college and then get hooked up with the disability center there because they’ll help you out with everything you need to know about special housing or any special accommodations you might need. I know at the college I’m going to, you have to be accepted first and also accepted into the disability center there before you can even apply for housing. I’m not lying; you have to be accepted into the disability programs in college. So my suggestion here would be to do your college applications extra early and getting accepted for disability may take a little while, depending on the accommodations you will need, so getting started on that ASAP is really important. You will also be needing all of the documentation on your disability because you’ll have to send it in along with your applications, so having copies of this ahead of time is in your best interest.

I wish I would have had someone sit me down and inform me about all of this whenever I was a freshman so I hope I helped you out, even just a little. Literally, every day is an important day because something could be due or something could become available for you to get! Once you’re in college, or accepted to college, that college won’t go through your parents and talk to them about you, they’ll want to talk to you directly so you’ll have to be your own advocate. Part of growing up and making the transition to college is taking responsibility for yourself and your life. Good luck with everything and remember, everyone that is interested in going to college has to go through the same things that you have to go through so you’re not alone!

Thank you Kayla for a great summary of important things to do to prepare for college while still in high school. Best of luck to you.

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Senior year is all about deadlines!!

by Sandra Tijerina
(San Antonio, Tx)

Something that is asked a lot by high school seniors is, “how do I start applying for college? How am I going to pay for college?” Have in mind that the journey of preparing for college starts actually in your freshmen year, and sadly many seniors did not realize how much they missed out on until it’s too late.

As a freshman, some of us might have not taken college seriously, thinking that we have four years to decide what we want to do with our lives, and how we are going to get there. Do not think that as a freshman you can slack off and easily pick up your junior or senior year, because you will just make your life difficult. Freshmen year is about change, and we become caught up in the thought that we are attending a “big kids” school and that nothing is going to stop us. What you are supposed to be doing instead is making goals for yourself and make sure your grades are high enough. Make the most out of your freshmen year by doing community service hours because it will haunt you later on.

Your junior year is probably the most crucial year regarding academics. During your junior year, you should have been taking the SAT and ACT, and taken rigorous classes, (they look great in your college applications!) By this time, you should have done enough community service hours, been active in clubs and organizations, and have taken responsibility with leadership roles. Why is this important? Unfortunately if you are not in the top ten percent of your class, you will not have the privilege of having automatic admission to any public and/or several private schools. However, if you were active in school clubs and worked a creditable amount of volunteer hours, you could still be very likely to be accepted into the college of your dreams. The point is that during your junior year, begin to organize all the leadership roles you held, note all the hours you served, and keep your grades up at all times.

The summer right before entering senior year should be productive. Sign up for college visits, get a part time job, re-take the SAT and ACT if possible, begin drafting your college essays, and most importantly, start looking for scholarships. There are many great websites out there that contain a variety of scholarships, all you need to do is look for them. Many people wait until the very last minute to sign up for colleges and scholarships, not realizing what they missed out on. This is why senior year is ALL about DEADLINES! You will have multiple scholarship and application deadlines, not considering keeping up with your academic work aside. Become your counselor’s best friend, they will guide you and provide the knowledge that you will need to know to apply for colleges. Visit school websites and note on a calendar when the deadlines are.

I completely understand how stressful it can be for someone that has so much desire to be accepted by the college of their dreams, but they can’t either because they did not reach the academic standards, or because they cannot pay for college. There’s a solution for everything, you just have to keep pushing yourself to reach the standard. Understand that you can automatically qualify for financial aid depending on your income, that there are many odd scholarships out there that you may qualify for. Some schools, especially private schools offer money to you just for attending their school. There’s no reason why you should give up on college when all you have to do is look around and ask around, after all, how much desire do you hold within to start your new beginning?

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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Larissa for sharing your essay "Senior year is all about deadlines!!". You offer good advice to start looking for scholarships that summer before your senior year, and there are also scholarships available for juniors and younger too. Check out some Scholarship Contests and scholarship lists below. Best of luck to you.

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Applying for Scholarships

by Kara Delemeester
(St. Petersburg, FL, USA)

Advice from a Veteran Applicant - As my final days of high school and my first days of college draw nearer, the overwhelming number that is the totally cost of my college education looms over me. Scholarships have become few and far between as deadlines for the 2012-2012 school year pass. Just as they become sparse, I’m making the mad dash for applying for scholarships, just like every other student in my class in schools around the country. When your final year of high school starts, you have a lot to be thinking about and accomplishing. Scholarships should be at the forefront of your mind.

Scholarships are free money. You send in an application, write a little essay, and then wait. If you win, you just received free money. However, scholarships don’t fall into your lap. You have to look for them and work for them. So start looking for them as soon as possible. If you start your applications early enough you get more time to work on it and perfect it before the deadline rears its ugly head. Also, most students are going to wait until the last minute to start applying. The earlier you are applying for scholarships, the less competition you have.

When filling out your application make sure to include any award or club you’ve ever received or been apart of. Scholarships are one of the only places where bragging is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged. If you build a resume that includes all of that information, you can use it for multiple scholarship applications which takes out an extra step. If you don’t know how to format your resume, try searching “Student Resume ” for some examples.

More often than not, the scholarship you’re applying for will require an essay. A lot of prompts are very similar or even have an “Use an essay your wrote for another scholarship” option. Save every essay you write because, chances are, you might be able to use it as is or modify it to fit another prompt. However, whether you use an old essay or write a new one, have a couple of other people read it over. Not only will they find spelling and grammar mistakes you might have looked over, they might see that a sentence or paragraph isn’t necessary, or that you need to add a little more to it.

Regardless of when you start applying for scholarships, or whether you take any of my tips above, take this one word of advice with you. Never get discouraged. Applying for scholarships can be very disheartening. You can apply for hundreds and not get a single one. Don’t take it personally, don’t be offended, and don’t let it bring you down. As long as you apply, you’re not left wondering, “what if?” Never give up, and never let rejection make you feel like your not good enough. Now get out there, and get applying.

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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice
Thank you Kara for sharing some very good advice about applying for scholarships. Good luck.

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