Are you ready for college?

Olivia Willard, ’21, fills out an application for college. Filling out an application is only one of the first steps to getting into college. (Julieanna Baerga)

Thinking about what colleges to apply to can be terrifying, let alone knowing if you are well prepared. Here are a few detailed steps to help you select your top five colleges and ultimately decide which college to go to. 

The first thing that you have to have ready for college is an ACT or SAT score. You also want to have a good GPA because that will factor into how much you can receive for scholarships. Senior year may seem like, since it’s the last year of high school, a time to joke around, but this is a misconception because grades still matter to colleges! 

Another important item to have ready is a transcript. You can get these by asking the guidance counselors.

After visiting colleges, you should have a list of your top three or five favorite colleges. When Oct. 1 rolls around, be sure to add those top 5 or top 3 colleges to your FAFSA. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. When you are applying for the FAFSA, you are applying for different types of grants, work-study, and loans. Applying is free. 

After applying to your top picks, be on the lookout for financial award letters. The financial award letter tells you how much money you will receive in scholarships and grants, and how much will be needed to pay out-of-pocket or in loans. Financial award letters are usually sent out by the college at the end of December or the beginning of January.

 To add to the important tasks to complete, ask your college admissions person if they allow an overnight stay. Most colleges are not doing them anymore mainly because of the Coronavirus. But if they are doing them, it will be very helpful to you in deciding what college you want to attend, mainly because this can help you get a sense of what it feels like. 

The Loras Admissions officer also recommends not to eliminate colleges simply because of tuition costs. “Don’t get intimidated by prices for private schools because at the end, you end up paying mostly the same because the price of attendance at a private school is approximately the same as public schools,” she says. That is because private schools often offer more aid than public institutions. 

Deciding on a college can be a stressful time. Lean on your admissions officer for support and advice. Going to college may seem crazy, and you might think that you still have time, but remember, Class of 2021: May will be here in the blink of an eye.