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Stay on Track: Your Stress-Free Guide for Applying to College

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Stay on Track: Your Stress-Free Guide for Applying to College

Here’s a list of what to do in your junior and senior years of high school to make your college application process easy to manage.

Junior year


Have the “college” talk with your parents: Where do you want to go? What major? How much can you spend?


Take the PSAT: It can give you an idea of where you fall in the college applicant pool. Plus, your scores may make you eligible for national scholarships.


Consider how you’ll pay for college: Take a look at different types of loans and scholarships. From the exceptionally tall to the llama enthusiast, there’s a scholarship opportunity for everyone!


Take the ACT/SAT: These tests are crucial to figuring out which schools are a good match for you. Consider taking practice tests and even a prep course to ensure that you get your best score possible.


Make a file for each school: Check out college fairs and visit campuses. Then compare information about each school’s academics, financial aid, and campus life.

Senior year


Start your essays: With your top schools in mind, start drafting your work and be sure to leave yourself time for edits, edits, and more edits.


Secure letters of recommendation: Reach out to teachers, coaches, and employers who would be happy to write you a glowing review. Don’t forget to send them a thank you note afterwards!


Apply for financial aid: Some student aid programs award funds on a first-come, first-served basis so don’t wait too long to submit your FAFSA®.

Consider re-taking standardized tests: You can also re-take your SAT to try to raise your score.


Stay on top of deadlines: Don’t let the date for early application sneak up on you. Many schools have different application deadlines; make sure you know when everything is due.


Apps are due: January 1st is the universal deadline for most schools’ applications, so make sure yours are in. If you applied early action, you could get your decision letter any day.


Mail’s here: Keep an eye out for your college acceptance letters.


Watch for financial aid offers: This is when you’ll get financial aid offers from the schools that have accepted you. Compare them to see which offers the best financial aid package.


Decision time: After deciding where you’d like to go, make sure to stay on top of communications from your school. Deposits, forms, and housing apps are all due prior to leaving in the fall.


Make a budget: Talk with your parents to figure out how much you’ll expect to earn and pay while at school. Having a budget will start you on the journey toward financial responsibility.


Final to-do items: This is the time to attend orientation, register for your classes, and make sure the tuition bill is paid. It’s also the time to have fun — and have an amazing time!

FAFSA is a registered service mark of U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid.

© 2022 Sallie Mae Bank. Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Sallie Mae Bank, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America. W40652B 0722

Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.

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