10 Things Seniors Need To Do To Get Ready For College

A girl smiling while holding a ballpen and notebook with both hands.

Flickr user AFS USA

You’ve finally made it! It’s your senior year, which means very soon you’ll be done with high school and off to college.

Don’t hit cruise control just yet, though. The work is about to begin.

Here are ten things every senior needs to do in order to get ready for college.

Take/Retake the ACT or SAT Tests

There’s really no way around this one. Almost every college in the United States require the ACT or SAT as an entrance exam. While most high school students take the ACT/SAT during their junior year, senior year can be used to retake for a higher score—which not only helps acceptance odds, but also qualify you for additional scholarships, so it’s well worth retaking.

Check Your Class Rank and GPA

Don’t wait until the final grading period of second semester to know your class rank and GPA. Many colleges look at your predicted class rank and GPA when you first apply, knowing full well that these rankings change upon graduation. If you buckle down now, your GPA will help you score everything from scholarships to internships opportunities. Ask a guidance counselor if you need help.

Visit Schools You Are Interested In

It’s best to get school visits in early, either over the summer break right before your senior year or during the fall.

Interested in a school that’s out-of-state or on the other side of the country? Long weekends or special breaks may be the best times to visit. Deciding to visit all the schools on your list may be impractical and unaffordable, but visiting as many schools as you can, and getting as much information in-person as possible will help you make better decisions all round.

Fill out your FAFSA

Everyone should file the FAFSA. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for federal aid, file the FAFSA anyway—it can be used for more than just federal aid, as some outside scholarships will require it to be filed. Many high schools have financial aid events to help students and parents, so check with your counselor as to when yours is and what you need to know in order to participate.

Practice Writing Those Essays

Most college scholarship opportunities have essays and forms attached to them, so you might want to start honing your written communication skills now while you have plenty of time. Many students don’t pursue scholarships that require an essay. Don’t be that person—essay scholarships tend to have less competition. Start practicing your essay-writing skills now while you have time and have easy access to teachers who are willing to help.

Use A Calendar

A calendar can help you stay organized, help remind you of upcoming dates, and help you stay on-track when it comes to application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, and upcoming events that may be necessary to make sure you get into the school of your choice.

Don’t rely entirely on your memory to keep track of all of the above. With so many things to do while preparing for college, you may forget one crucial detail that can derail all your plans.

Get a Job

Every little bit counts, and this is true when you’re in college or not. The extra money can be used for application fees, travel expenses when you go to check out schools, or you can save the money to purchase yourself textbooks or a new laptop to use while you’re at school.

Additionally, job experience (especially if somehow related to your major) will look great on your resume for future internship or job opportunities.

Keep Tabs on All Your Applications

You sent out all the applications you wanted to. Have you heard anything back from anyone yet? Make sure you keep track of all your applications and college prep items. Now is the perfect time to make sure the schools you are interested in are interested in you. Follow up with e-mails and phone calls if you don’t hear anything after a couple of weeks.

Get the Supplies You Need

Don’t under-estimate the amount of supplies you will need to set up your dorm room. If you wait for last minute to get it all, you will end up paying a lot. Instead of making a list of things to buy, why not start by asking around.

Ask family members for dorm room supplies like colorful folders and notebooks, interesting wall hangings, and luggage. You’ll be surprised to find that almost everyone will have extras that they are more than happy to let you have.

Just because you’re a senior doesn’t mean you can coast and slack during one of the most important times of your academic life. If you use our list to keep yourself organized and get yourself ready for your freshman year of college, you and your family will be happier and you’ll feel much more at ease when you start college.

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