Step 4: Waiting. Waiting. Wai…
Patience is a virtue. It really is especially when it comes to hearing back from your colleges and seeing if you get accepted anywhere. Just wait and be patient. Seriously. The decisions aren’t going to come faster because you’re more frustrated and anxious. In the meantime to either add or reduce from the stress, you have other obligations before you can actually go to college. So do those while you’re waiting, waiting, wai…
Step 3.25: Scholarships, Financial Aid and Moneys
Ok I must confess, I made this mistake. I really missed out on some big opportunities when it came to scholarships, financial aid and other moneys. I did this step at 4.5 instead of at 3.25. You should really do your scholarship applications, and other aid moneys (financial aid, grants, loans etc) almost in conjunction with applying to the colleges you want to get into. So I guess if you want a more financially stable future, you’ll have stay in hell for a while longer. Here is what I learned in hindsight while many of my friends received full ride scholarships and I was trying to scrap together as much money as I can.
My first big mistake was that I thought you applied for scholarships AFTER you were accepted to a college or decided to attend. Please, please, please, do not make that same mistake. Most scholarship deadlines are either the same time as the actual school application or a few months later. Some are even due earlier (because of early decision or early action). You have heard of the saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” right? In the same sense, you miss 100% of the scholarships you don’t apply for. Unless you don’t meet the requirements for the scholarship(s), APPLY. Even if you don’t think you’ll go to that certain school, APPLY. Scholarships aren’t like college applications in the sense where you have to pay or be careful of your selection. It’s a lot of grunt work and it’s quantity over quality. One, very competitive $10,000 scholarship is the same as ten, non-competitive, copy and paste $1,000 scholarships. You can’t go wrong with free money. Just because you are offered a scholarship from a certain school, it doesn’t mean you have to attend. I know a friend who turned down an $80,000 scholarship for 4 years! That’s $20,000 a year! Don’t just look at your rewards though. Sure $80,000 is a lot of money, but overall, how does it compare with your other college costs? In the end, my friend turned down that offer because the overall cost of that college was still twice the amount he would’ve paid at the college he is currently attending. Along the same lines, get your FAFSA done as soon as possible and check the deadlines for your colleges because they vary. Even if you don’t need it, many scholarships require you to have the FAFSA filled out to even be considered. Most deadlines for the FAFSA are in March, but check with your college and the scholarship deadlines just in case. In the meantime, one of our bloggers, Lee, has a great post about how to get these so-called scholarships and how to cover college expenses, so go over there and give it a read: Lee’s Awesome Covering College Costs Post.
The Pre-College Talk
After you have finished applying to all the colleges you like and exhausted your scholarship search and application, you have successfully escaped the circles of hell and can finally take a breather. Take this precious time, these next few months while decisions roll in (usually around March and April) to talk to your parents/guardian and friends. Discuss all your plans and goals for each college that has accepted you and the financial situations in each one. Even before I received my acceptance letter from the Academy, I was already talking to all my friends and family like I have been accepted and enrolled. The more I talked to them, the more I was sure I was going to to attend no matter the circumstance. It proved to be the best decision of my life. As I was getting my acceptance letters in, getting turned down by a few and accepted by a few, I really had to look at my options and see which ones would not only fit my overall dreams and goals the best, but which ones wouldn’t burden me and destroy me financially later down the road. My dream was to live out in the West Coast, primarily Cali and be a business management major. I was accepted to the business schools in Irvine and University of Washington, but I decided to attend Kelley School of Business in my home state of IU instead. It’s funny because my parents ended up being the ones pushing me to go out west to chase my dream and even offered to fund it, but I told them no, I had to do this on my own. Honestly it wasn’t a bad deal because I saved $40,000+ a year on just school expenses alone, plus Kelley is the #4 in the national for undergraduate business degrees. The other two were in the top 50.
Remember at the beginning of the journey, the first step for getting into college was talking to yourself? Asking if college was worth it? Step 1: To College or Not to College Well, you’re going to end it by talking to yourself and asking if the colleges that have accepted you coincide with your values, goals, and ambitions. After talking to your parents/guardians about your decisions and evaluating the best options, ask yourself one more time, “Is this really what I want?” If your answer is no, rethink it. Re-evaluate all your options and come up with a list of pros/cons for each one. How much are you willing to give up? How much are you wiling to embrace change? How well will the school accommodate your needs and goals? Those are just a few good questions to start with. If your answer is yes, go to the application portal and pay your deposit. You’re ready to start your college adventure!
If You Think it’s Over, It’s Not
Ok, not to scare you guys, but even after you pay your deposit, there are still a lot of things you have to do before you can officially be a student there. Here are just a few things I had to do and I’m sure it’s no different than any of the other colleges:
1) Take any placement exams the college requires. Or you can take any exams you think would help you be ahead so you don’t end up taking any unnecessary classes.
2) Make sure you have living arrangements set up and ready to go. Don’t want to move in and not have a dorm.
3) Make sure either you or your school sends your final transcripts to your university, otherwise well, you will most likely not be able to register for classes or attend.
4) Get your shots. Yeah, college is a whole new environment and you will be susceptible to a new host of germs. As much as you hate them, they’re also required. So just do it.
5) Accept all your financial packages in terms of rewards and aids. If they’re unclaimed after a deadline, you might just lost some extra money.
6) If your scholarships and financial aid packages are not where you want your price to be, go apply for student loans and get that taken care of.
7) Sign up for orientation. Most schools require you to go one or two days for orientation. Usually you will meet your professors, find out where you are living and schedule your classes.
8) Connect yourself with other students attending the university and make some new friends. It’s always nice to have somewhat familiar faces show up in a whole sea of new people.
9) Most importantly, pay attention to all the emails they send you and be sure to do anything that needs to be done.
I’m going to end this series with my one final piece of advice, don’t do anything too stupid after you get accepted into college or the summer of. Just because you are accepted, or received scholarships, it doesn’t mean they can’t take it away from you just like that. One poor decision at a party can leave you with consequences that you will have to suffer for the rest of your life. Not only could the college take away your acceptance and scholarships, it will notify the other schools that have accepted you as well and they might withdraw theirs. I’m not saying you can’t go have fun, just be smart about it. There are many ways to fill your senior summer with fun and excitement: spending time with your family and friends who you might not see for a long time, go play Pokemon Go for hours, work at a summer internship (Brianna has an awesome post about her experience here), or just relax. It’s your time to just enjoy yourself and be a kid before you have to take on the responsibilities of the world.
As always, best of luck,
If you want to read this series, here’s the links to them: