The last two years have been spent getting students ready for college admissions. Applications, essays, financial aid documents all done. Your child got college acceptance letters and after careful evaluation, finally picked the college he or she will be attending! Yay! But wait, the work is not done yet, here is our college checklist for seniors:
The college application process is a long and arduous one. Once the final acceptance decision has been made, you and your student may want to take a break. Of course your student will need to be working to maintain his grades through the end of senior year, but he should also begin to think about next year. Completing some of these college checklist during the spring will mean a more relaxed and less stressful summer and will also help your student begin to make the transition from high school student to college student.
1. Let the college know! Make your deposit. May 1 is the national “Intent to Register” date. Your student should make her deposit as soon as she knows where she wants to go, but no later than May 1. It is unethical to deposit at more than one institution.
2. Let the other schools know that you will not be attending. They will want to be able to fill that space with someone else.
3. Fill out housing application and submit deposits. This is often done separately from the tuition deposit. Ask how residence halls are assigned. Can roommates be requested? Should your student make a request? Are there forms to be completed?
4. Check to see other college requirements that are due. Do you need to sign up for freshmen orientation? Do you need to send in other forms? Check your emails and student account on the college website.
5. Revisit the campus if you can. It will look different now that it is your student’s own campus.
6. Inquire about the need for placement tests. Some students are exempt due to high TAKS or SAT scores. Others may need to take the THEA or Compass.
7. Attend any events scheduled for accepted students. Now is the time to begin to make connections. Ask about summer orientation dates and requirements. Some colleges offer ‘fish’ (freshmen) week.
8. Review financial aid packages and clarify anything that is unclear. Accept aid or scholarships that were offered, and deny any that you don’t want or need (such as loans). Inquire about the disbursements dates of these offers as well. If the disbursement dates are after the tuition due dates, you may have to pay some of it upfront and get reimbursed later.
9. Investigate and plan for additional costs. Are there additional fees that your student should be planning for? Parking? Travel costs? What is the typical cost of textbooks? Are there alternatives to ordering from the college bookstore? Plan now to prevent surprises later. Read more about ‘hidden costs’ here.
10. Ensure that your high school is sending a final transcript to the selected college.
11. Ask how and when class enrollment and schedules are completed. Be sure to review the degree plan, AP credits and pre-requisites before class registration opens. The most-desired classes fill up quickly. Students who are unsure can request a meeting with an academic advisor to review the degree plan.
12. Find out how and when e-mail accounts are assigned and whether there is a school Portal or announcement system. Some students got email accounts when they applied to the college, others need to set one up now.
13. Connect with current students. Your student can get started right away connecting with the life of the college and with other students. Check Facebook for pages for incoming students. Join a student club or rec league.
14. Review health insurance and ask whether your student may waive required college insurance if she is covered by your plan. If the new college is far away, research insurance options to find a doctor in the new college town.
15. Find the college calendar and mark important dates. You may want to make plans for moving day and Family Weekend right away.
16. If your student will need any special services – disability services, food accommodations, special housing – this is a good time for your student to communicate with school personnel. It will be busier further along in the summer.
17. Review the college’s meal plan options. Be sure it’s clear what is and is not included in the dining card purchases.
18. Families should also decide on a “discretionary spending account” and how that will be handled. Students will have unexpected needs while away at college and they should know beforehand whether every need or purchase needs to be cleared with the parents ahead of time. Usually, a credit card or debit card can be procured in the student’s name by the parent’s bank. Discuss budgets and limits BEFORE the first statement shows up.
19. Start a shopping list for dorm items. Be sure to review what is and is not allowed before shopping. Some colleges allow fridges, others don’t. Same with microwaves and hot plates. If the roommate has already been selected, the student may want to establish who is bringing what so you don’t end up with two microwaves. Remember that it’s very easy to purchase needed items from Amazon or nearby stores after the student moves in; it’s easier to purchase later than it is to return or store unneeded items.
20. Send AP scores from the student’s College Board account to the selected college. After sending, check with the college to see what credit has been awarded and if the course schedule for fall needs to be tweaked.
Be patient. At some schools, work with incoming students may not begin until after the end of the current school year. College personnel are still busy with the current students. Although they may be happy to speak with your student, they may ask her to call again later.
Encourage your student to handle the above suggestions and make contacts and calls rather than you. This is the perfect time for your student to begin to take charge of his college experiences. He may need you to guide him, but insist that he do as much as possible himself.
For questions, please contact Jolyn Brand directly here.