In addition to all of the fun activities that senior year entails: prom, senior dances, senior awards, etc., you will be applying to college, if you are college-bound.
Hopefully, your high school has a program that will help you to explore your interests, which will help to develop your search for a major, which will help you to find the best schools for that major.
Most high schools will have a program that you can explore from ninth grade all the way through twelfth grade. If you still would like some additional resources, you can get help from the Library!
On our website, select the following from our navigation menu: Children and Teens > Pre-Teens and Teens > Online Homework Help. On the Homework Help page, scroll down to the College and Career Section.
To learn more about careers before senior year, look at Career Preparation - LearningExpress Library. There, you will be able to research careers, skills, and take a limited amount of exams. Another resource to look at is the Job & Career Accelerator - LearningExpress Library. Especially helpful are the Career Match and Explore Occupations sections. Another option would be to try taking a class in Coursera, which has university level classes.
If you still plan to take admission exams like the SAT or Advanced Placement exams in senior year, here are a couple of practice test databases that are free to you from the Library:
By senior year, you will be thinking about which college to choose. Here is a free database that can help you: College Blue Book.
If you are considering applying to multiple schools (I know of some enterprising seniors who have applied to 15 or more schools!), you might consider the Common Application.
During the summer before senior year, it is good to start practicing those college essays! Your essay will be a guide to the college as to whether you will fit on their campus or not. With the elimination of the SAT's, the essay has become even more important. College Admission Test Preparation - LearningExpress Library has a section on college essay writing.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
October 1 is going to be an important date for you, when you are applying for financial aid. This is the day when the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) comes out. Try to have your parents help you out when filling out this form. You will need your family's tax return when filling out some parts of this form. An important thing to understand about the FAFSA is that you must apply from October 1 for the FOLLOWING school year. For example, from October 1, 2022, you will be providing information to FAFSA for the 2023-2024 academic year. If you have questions about the FAFSA, the Library has a database called HelpNow, which has a section for FAFSA questions. Just click on "Featured Service, Live FAFSA Help."
Some schools may still require you to fill out the College Board's CSS Profile. Filling this out at the same time as the FAFSA requires the same kind of information, so it is good to complete them around the same time.
The Library has a great resource for finding scholarships and loans: Tuition Funding Sources. Hurry, many scholarships are due in December!
Getting a national scholarship may be difficult. It is often best to try to apply to local funders. Here are just some ideas:
- Local branches of national philanthropies like Lion's Club International, Kiwanis, and Rotary International (to name a few,) may have scholarships. These organizations may have clubs at your school: Leo Club, Key Club, Interact, etc. Though students from those clubs have a good chance of winning scholarships, you still have a chance. Many seniors never apply for local scholarships!
- Your high school's guidance counselor should have a list of scholarships. This person is an invaluable resource at high school! They will also organize college visits, where you can meet school representatives!
- Your high school booster (athletic, band, etc.) may have scholarships.
- Your parent's union may have scholarships.
Like the college essays, you should practice writing scholarship essays during the summer before senior year.
Choosing Your College
Once you have applied, you may start to see acceptances or rejections. Make sure you check your email on a daily basis, once you have applied!
If you receive multiple acceptances and can't decide, then it is time to do more research:
- How much are they offering you in financial aid? Less loans and more scholarships are best!
- Is the cost of the education worth it? What is the average salary for those who graduate from that school?
- Does the school have good employer connections? You will need good connections from the university to find a position after graduation.
- Is the school safe?
- Transportation: is it difficult to get to and from the school and home?
- What do alumni say about the school?
- What are current students saying about the school?
- What is the financial endowment of the school? Is the school financially stable?
- If you can visit the school (most high schools give time allowances for this,) which did you feel happiest about?
These are just a few questions. You probably have many more! You might consider asking your guidance counselor for help!
Finally, if you are a student with disabilities, check to see if the college will provide the kind of instruction and tools that you will need. Try to connect with the college's disability office as soon as you have accepted. Your K-12 services may change!
And, of course, make sure that your high school sends your final high school transcript by your college's deadline!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!