Our next steps

What seniors should do to prepare for next year


Photo by Victoria Van

Story by Celeste Anderson, editor in chief

As we enter the beginning of a new semester, many students have entered their last. You can find seniors scattered around the school, either excited to be coming to the end of their high school careers or dreading showing up every day for the next couple months. Regardless, many of these seniors have plans to attend university next year and are waiting to make their final college decisions.

For those who do not feel prepared or are stressed about their next steps, here’s some advice they can take.

Apply: If you are planning on attending university, the first step is to actually apply to some. It’s not too late– many colleges still have upcoming due dates that give you an extra chance to get all of your materials in. Brainstorm what you’re looking for, including tuition costs, type of university, distance from home and majors you’re interested in. Don’t apply to just one– apply to both colleges that you’re sure to get into and reach schools, or those that you would like to attend but are not sure if you have a guaranteed spot. There’s a college out there for everyone.

Gather: Once you’ve applied, many colleges require additional documents, including your high school transcript, GPA, class rank, ACT/SAT scores and college transcript (if you’ve taken Dual Credit courses). Most also want extracurricular activities, hours spent in them and letters of recommendation, so write down everything that you’ve been involved with in high school along with the names of teachers, coaches, priests or people who know you well and can write you awesome letters of recommendation. Narrow the list of names down to two or three, and then go ask those people if they would mind writing a letter for you.

It’s not too late– many colleges still have upcoming due dates that give you an extra chance to get all of your materials in. ”

— Anderson

Aid: Another important step in the college process is filling out FAFSA and financial aid applications. These papers are tricky and often involve family income and tax returns, so it’s a good idea to get a parent to help you with this part of the process. Be sure to sit down with your guardian and fill out these applications, as they often offer you money to attend university. Also fill out any scholarship applications available, as this is another source of “free” money for you. If you know or think that you will not get enough financial aid from the government or scholarships, consider applying for loans to ease the financial burden of college.

Acceptances: Congratulations! You got into a university, or maybe even more. Many students don’t have a dream school that they know they want to go to, and that’s okay. It makes choosing a college even easier, as there are so many options to choose from. If you’re stuck between two or more schools, sit down with a pen and paper and compare them. Which one is the ideal distance to you? The ideal cost? Offers the ideal major? Which ones seem to have a vested interest in you? Which ones are offering the most scholarships? Another great way to choose is to schedule visits to your top universities to better get a feel for the campus and what it offers. There are so many things to consider when choosing a university, so your parents might be great aids in helping you pick the one you want to attend.

What’s next?: At this point, many seniors have been accepted to the majority of the colleges they have applied to and may have even picked out the one they know they want to attend. If this sounds like you, consider putting a housing deposit down on your favorite universities. Many colleges also pair students with a roommate, and they often offer roommate questionnaires if you don’t know who to room with. Most also let you pick your roommate, so answer these surveys honestly to either pick or be assigned to a roommate who fits you and your needs. Don’t forget to formally accept your college offer– most colleges require you to declare your decision by May 1.

There are so many things to consider when choosing a university, so your parents might be great aids in helping you pick the one you want to attend.”

— Anderson

Next year: Before the next school year starts, many universities have freshmen orientation, in which the incoming freshmen learn more about the college, its organizations, where they’re rooming and who they’re rooming with. This is often where you choose your classes for the semester, so brainstorm before then how many hours you want to take, what classes you want to take and when you want to take those classes. Freshmen often get the raw end of the deal when it comes to choosing classes and times as they often go last, so don’t be discouraged if your schedule doesn’t look like what you planned in your head– be flexible. It will all work out.

We are getting closer and closer to deadlines and graduation, so be sure and get all of your necessary college applications and requirements completed. If university is not in your plans, think about the next steps you want to take in life and make sure that you’re prepared to leave high school and make it in the workforce or whatever you may choose. We’re almost at the end, so make every decision a smart one, and make sure you’re ready for life outside of these hallways.