Beginning Your College Research

Juniors, the big question now may be where to begin your college research.  While this process may feel a bit overwhelming, here are some helpful  resources to use to start you off:

  1. College guide books including Fiske Guide to Colleges, Princeton Review and Barrons, which will help you to get a general outline of a school’s offerings and stats.
  2. College and university websites offer virtual tours and specifics about a school.
  3. College admissions blogs will catch you up on the latest news and topics in the college admissions world.
  4. Newspapers and magazines may have interesting feature articles as well as news.
  5. Your guidance counselor is a great resource; make use of his or her knowledge and understanding of admissions. Make an appointment soon to get started.
  6. Your family knows you best— ask for their input.
  7. Net Price Calculator is the US Department of Education’s online tool to help you understand the real price of attending college, it’s available on every school’s website

While using the above resources, keep in mind these key factors to help you focus your search: school size and setting, distance from home, academic programs, cost to attend, personality of the school and your chances of admission.

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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the late registration deadline for the February 8th ACT.


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The Most Common FAFSA Mistakes To Avoid

At the risk of sounding repetitive, we can’t stress enough how important it is to be on top of filing your FAFSA accurately and on time. If you haven’t already done so,

The US Department of Education’s blog, HOMEROOM, has an excellent list of the most common FAFSA mistakes to avoid. Read through this guide to make sure you maximize your chance of receiving financial aid.

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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the registration deadline for the February 8th ACT.



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Paying for College: Putting Together the Pieces

Scholarships help a great many college students pay for their education. Start searching now to find out if you qualify for scholarship money. Scholarships (and grants) are the most desirable form of financial aid because they do not need to be repaid. (By the way, the terms “grants” and “scholarships” are often used interchangeably.)

When searching for scholarships, note the following:

  • The majority of scholarship money is awarded by colleges and universities.
  • Many private colleges and some state schools require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE in order to be considered for these scholarship programs as well as for non-federal financial aid.
  • Some schools also require their own supplemental application forms.
  • Deadlines vary from school to school so keep track of due dates to avoid missing out on any opportunities.
  • Need and/or merit may be the criteria used to award scholarships.
  • Any number of criteria including academic, athletic or artistic accomplishments can be used to award merit scholarships.
  • Scholarships and grants may be contingent on meeting certain requirements such as maintaining a minimum GPA.
  • Scholarships are awarded either as a lump sum up front or may require you to reapply annually.
  • Private and public sources also award a great number of scholarships, although they account for a much smaller percentage of the total pool available.
  • You may be eligible for scholarships offered by a variety of organizations depending on your personal profile and/or special interests.
  • Some scholarships may be career specific – available to students studying to become teachers, while others may be student specific – available to students from a military family or specific ethnic group, and even to students with a unique hobby.

A helpful resource to match you with scholarships is There are also many other resources worth exploring. Talk to your guidance counselor for additional information. Visit your guidance office to pick up scholarship applications and look through the lists of special scholarships available to students in your school district and town.

Now’s the time to search for scholarships. Make a list of scholarships you plan to apply for with their respective due dates and check them off as you complete your applications. Apply as soon as possible to maximize your chance for help funding your college education.


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Don’t Miss The Deadline

Regular decision deadlines are fast approaching. Application due dates vary from school to school so make sure you know when each of your applications need to be submitted so you don’t miss out.

Once you submit your applications, confirm that all the required components for your applications have been received, as many schools will not review your application until your file is complete.  The easiest way to do this is to get organized by creating a list of your schools and the requirements for each one. Then, using the online service your high school subscribes to, consulting the online tracking system you may have been assigned by each individual college, or checking by phone, verify that each school has received the following components:

  • The Common Application
  • Individual school application and/or supplement, if applicable.
  • Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, SAT II, AP, TOEFL)
  • Official high school transcript
  • Mid-year grades
  • Guidance counselor letter of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation (from teachers, coaches, employers)
  • Application fee or waiver
  • Elective supplementary material
  • CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
  • Individual school and state required financial aid forms

If anything is missing, follow-up immediately. For example, if you’ve been advised that a letter of recommendation is missing, reach out to the writer and confirm that it has been submitted. It’s possible that the college has the letter but it has not yet made its way into your file. The same could be true for your transcript. Standardized test score may also take some time to be posted to your file. With all the application materials being submitted, it’s easy to understand how admission offices can get backlogged.

Once you confirm your file is complete, your job is done!



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Get Ready For Tomorrow’s ACT

A few thoughts if you’re scheduled to take tomorrow’s ACT.

To minimize your stress tomorrow morning, it’s a great idea to get organized ahead of time. The last thing you need on test morning is a desperate scramble. These are some of the things you can do tonight to get your big day off to a great start:

First, check with your parents to make sure they know when and where you’re scheduled to take the test, and arrange how you’ll get to the test center. Next, gather and pack all the things you’ll need to take with you. Some of the things on this check list are “must-have” items, while others are optional.

REQUIRED: Don’t forget any of the following items or it will be a long ride home!

  • An approved calculator
  • Sharpened #2 pencils
  • An acceptable form of photo ID
  • Your admission or standby ticket


  • Water
  • Snack
  • Sweater
  • Back-up calculator
  • Extra batteries for your calculator
  • Watch (to keep track of time)

Set your alarm, get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy, satisfying breakfast.

Good luck!



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