11 Tips & Resources for College Applicants

Applying for college can be stressful and scary. Like, what exactly do you do? How do you get started? Use these resources and tips to make your college application process much smoother and a whole lot easier.

  1. Scholarships. There's a scholarship out there for seemingly everyone and everything. BUT, finding them can be difficult. A good place to start: our site! DoSomething.org is currently working with Foot Locker to award $20,000 scholarships to 20 students who excel in academics and are strong leaders in athletics and in their community. You can apply now through December 19th. 
  2. SAT Question Prep. Study for the SATs and donate rice to the World Food Programme at the same time. Visit Free Rice to answer practice SAT questions. The website will donate 10 grains of rice for every question you get right. Better yet, there's a smartphone app for it too!
  3. Rock Your Essay. Don't write a boring, stereotypical essay, make it stand out. Include all the work you've done in your community through Do Something and let your personality shine through. Colleges love more than just good grades, they also love to hear about what you do outside of school and what makes you special.
  4. College.gov. Get info on federal student loans (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA), tests you'll have to take to apply, checklists for college application prep, and much more. 
  5. The College Board. This is basically your applying-for-college homepage. As much as you might be dreading it, you'll have to take the SAT, which is run by The College Board. But it's not all bad! Their website has tons of resources to help you prepare for the test and understand what your scores mean after you take it. Another really cool feature is the detailed school search that lets you search for schools by size, location, major, sports, social activities, etc.
  6. Visit, visit, visit! Most high schools allow juniors and seniors to take a few absences so you can go on trips to see colleges. You won't really know if you love a school until you visit the campus and get a feel for it. It may sound corny, but visiting a campus really can give you that "gut feeling" about whether a school is right for you or not. So go, take a tour and ask tons of questions.
  7. High School Advisor or Counselor. Your advisor or counselor is the know-it-all for colleges and college prep. And if they don't know something, they have plenty of resources to find the answer for you. They should be able to advise you on everything from taking tests, such as the SATs, to helping you decide which school you want to go to in the end. Make meetings and appointments with this person and get to know them well.
  8. College Fairs. A college fair is the perfect starting point for looking for schools. Representatives from a bunch of different colleges will set up a table with information and be available to answer any questions you have. Super important tip: if you go to a college fair, make sure to dress and act professionally. This is the school's first impression of you, and you want to make sure it's good!
  9. The Common ApplicationThe average student applies to more than 4 schools. But ugh, that means 4 totally different applications, right? Nope! The Common App is the solution to that. Over 500 public and private schools accept the standardized application, so you don't have to fill out the same information over and over for different schools. It's all in one place, on one application.
  10. Princeton Review. This is your one-stop shop for everything test prep. Read: PSAT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests, ACT, AP and more. They also offer services such as a college search, information on studying abroad, financial aid and scholarship advice – even an action plan you can create to get yourself on track for the college application process.
  11. College Info by College Students. Most of the information that you get from the sites listed above is provided by the school. And they're not the ones experiencing everything that they have to offer the way you will. So to really get to know the school, find information from current students. Sites like College Prowler have students rate and give information and opinions on schools, so everything you're getting isn't vetted and controlled by the administration.

Learn how to budget once you're in college. GO

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