Senior Year of High School Checklist: Apply, Accept, Enroll
Your senior year in high school is a big year on many levels because you are ending one chapter of your life and starting another. It is also the year where you will spend the most time preparing for college. As there can be a lot of factors involved in that decision, here is a checklist of things to do on the way to applying for college.
1. Know you can go
According to College Board, which helps seven million students across the country prepare for college, there is ample entry into the college system. According to their data, five hundred colleges nationwide accept more than 75 percent of applicants, and open-admission schools take nearly everyone who applies. That means if you want to go to college, you can go, so keep reading!
2. SAT and ACT
If you haven’t already done so, take (or re-take) the SAT or ACTs. Colleges have different requirements for these tests, and that's something you will note in step four of the checklist — college search. It’s not uncommon for students to take the SAT or ACT in their sophomore or junior year of high school and then again in their senior year of high school to get a higher score or to create a "super score." With super scoring, you can pick the highest score from each attempt. Not all schools accept super scores, so check each school’s admissions guidelines before submitting your scores. Not all colleges require the SAT or Act for admissions, but they might consider it for other things, like scholarships. Be sure to check with your college on requirements.
3. Pick a program
The first thing you need to do is decide on a program. What do you want to do as a career? Whether you know exactly what you want to do or you're unsure, take a look at programs and majors offered to see what catches your attention. Scroll through the categories or search for an area of interest and read about the future you can have as a graduate of that program.
4. Pick a college
Using the programs and majors link above, you can also click the link to see what colleges offer that program in North Carolina. Simply choose the URL beneath the job title, and you will be taken to a page of schools offering that program.
There may also be other reasons for you to choose a certain college: location to home; tuition rates; scholarship opportunities; etc. You can also do a college search to see more information specifically about the colleges, which can help you make the decision of where to apply.
5. Complete key enrollment steps
There are three key steps you need to complete to pursue college enrollment. You can do this anytime during your senior year of high school, but the sooner the better.
- You must prove you are a resident of North Carolina in order to be eligible for in-state tuition, state grants, and certain financial aid. You can complete the NC Residency Determination Service (RDS) using your CFNC login information.
- Financial Aid. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This connects you to the largest source of financial aid to help pay for college. The FAFSA opens each year on October 1 for the following academic year. You should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible because some state aid does run out.
- Be sure you have a CFNC account to utilize the College Application Hub. This is where you will submit college applications, send high school transcripts for free, and keep track of important deadlines for admission to colleges of your choice.
6. A helpful calculator
Attending college is more than just paying tuition. Financial calculators will help you determine the true cost of college as well as help you with managing your bank account and creating a budget.
Knowing your costs will also help you plan for loans or grants that you will need to pursue your postsecondary plans. There are many ways to meet the costs of college and different ways to save money while attending school. These calculators can help.
7. The countdown is on!
There are many deadlines to follow, including admissions, institutional financial aid, and scholarships, so it's a good idea to get a calendar to keep track of when everything is due. Another tip is to create a folder for admissions and a second for financial aid, to keep track of paperwork. You may also want to bookmark important websites on your computer, and save files to stay organized.
One page to definitely bookmark is the NC Countdown to College page that has helpful links to resources for Residency, FAFSA, and college applications. Many North Carolina schools waive application fees when you start your application on CFNC.org during College Application Week (October 17-21), so check back regularly for details!
Applying to College
As a general rule, as a high school senior, you will typically decide on the college you are going to attend by May 1, which is national College Decisions Day. College Foundation of North Carolina is a free service that is available to help you plan, apply and pay for college.
Apply to college today and get started on your future!