Best ways to prepare for your college journey

Junior and seniors, begin preparing for your college journey by researching potential colleges and evaluating whether they will be the right fit for you. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus has prepared tips for students looking to attend college.

Begin preparing for your college journey by researching potential colleges and evaluating whether they will be the right fit for you. Your academic interests, financial aid needs, and career goals are all factors to consider. Researching online and visiting college websites is a great way to get started.

It can be helpful to read reviews of potential colleges from current students to get a feel for what the college is actually like. If you have friends or family who are alumni of a college you are considering, ask them about their experience.

Your guidance counselor will be a crucial resource as you research colleges. Set up an appointment to meet with them, discuss your options, and create a plan to ensure your college application process goes smoothly.

Tour college campuses

Visiting potential colleges gives you an in-depth view of the campus environment, including housing and dining options, academic buildings, and recreation facilities. Whether you are early in the process of considering schools or trying to narrow down your choices before submitting applications, a campus tour can be a crucial factor in your decisions. Contact the college admissions office to schedule a campus visit or get more information about a self-guided tour.

Many colleges also offer virtual tours on their website or through the admissions office. Before your tour, review information about the college. Consider your areas of interest and make a list of questions you have about the college, such as campus size, location, areas of study, and campus involvement opportunities.

Prepare application materials

Review the required application materials for the colleges that you are considering. Each college will have different required materials, but you will likely need to prepare a college essay, request letters of recommendation, and submit transcripts.

Some colleges can share information about admission requirements, like minimum GPA or test scores, which are worth reviewing before starting your application. There are several different ways to submit your application. Many colleges allow you to apply directly through their website. Others may be available on the Common Application, an admission application that allows you to apply to multiple colleges at once.

It can be helpful to work with your guidance counselor to review application requirements and deadlines. You can also create a to-do list with the necessary application materials and important dates for each college you consider.

Take the SAT, ACT, or both

The SAT and ACT are entrance exams that test your college readiness. Most colleges will review your test scores as part of the application process. You may want to begin taking one or both tests before or during the spring of your junior year. Scheduling your test early will allow you to take it multiple times if you want to improve your score before submitting college applications.

Some colleges consider your SAT or ACT scores to be an essential part of your application, while others do not require them at all. Review the application requirements of the schools you intend to apply for to determine how they will factor your test scores into admission decisions.

Complete the FAFSA to receive financial aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows you to be considered for federal student aid, grants, loans, or work-study. It is also often required for other types of financial aid, like state scholarships. Filling out the FAFSA can be time-consuming, and it often requires detailed information about you and your parents’ financial situation.

Speak with your guidance counselor and your parents to ensure you have everything you need to complete the FAFSA before the deadline. If you have questions about the types of scholarships you may be eligible for at a given school, contact their financial aid office.

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