This time of year, I start receiving daily requests from my senior students for assistance in completing the final stages of the college application process. Keep your senior on track by making sure he or she has completed these four final steps.
- Letters of reference
Don't leave this step for the last minute. Teachers and counselors have a full plate and it's difficult to fulfill last minute requests to write a great letter of recommendation. Sit down with your child and write a general letter of reference that highlights positive characteristics, academic achievements, and extra-curricular activities. Give this sample letter to recommenders to help guide them so they can complete it faster.
- FAFSA Documents
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid requires W-2 forms and your tax information. This application will determine how much state and federal aid will be available to defer tuition costs. Remember that it operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the money runs out, it is imperative that your child submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. Most high schools offer parent counseling sessions this time of year to answer questions and help navigate your tax situation.
Several students of mine are currently having interviews to make the final determination on a scholarship opportunity or admission to an institution. Interviews can be tough, but there are some simple strategies that can help your child feel more confident about them.
- Practice, practice, practice. Generally, interviews involve the same kind of questions: Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to go to school here? Tell me about a time when you were a leader. Where do you see yourself in five years? Review these questions with your child and offer suggestions to refine his or her answers.
- Make a good first impression. First impressions also play big role in determining the outcome of an interview. Practice shaking hands with a firm grip and eye contact, have your student arrive at least 15 minutes early, and make sure he or she is dressed for success.
- Send a thank you note. Sent after the interview, a hand-written thank you note is a nice touch that can separate your child from the competition.
- College Admission Test Prep
These tests can produce a lot of anxiety. The best way to have your student feel better about them is to do some research about what specifically will be on the exam. Once that is determined, the student can put in some practice time. This is especially important for admission tests that involve timed essays. Getting the timing right takes rehearsal. Check with the school counseling office to see if there are any practice tests available so that your student can review the format and question types.