Happy New Year! Time for new beginnings, new hope and, sure, even some new worries. But getting ready for college doesn’t have to be one.
There’s tons of resources out there to help map out the journey. As with any monumental journey, the best bet is to bite it off in short increments and start early.
Here are ten tips to make your transition to college easier.
1. Make a calendar
Goals are easier if they are visualized. Get a giant desk calendar and some fancy pens and highlighters. Stick it on your wall and mark it up with dates for specific tasks like taking the SAT.
2. Practice, practice, practice
Register for the preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The tests are usually given in October, help you prepare and can be used to enter into scholarship competitions. Best of all: They can be taken in a classroom.
3. Make a list. Check it twice
Write down a list of 10-20 schools to investigate – we think these 15 outstanding independent colleges and universities in Michigan should be on the list. Separate them into categories: Top choices, tier twos and fallbacks. Dream big. Do your research. Talk to counselors and teachers.
4. Research Scholarships
Tons of money is available. Millions of dollars go unclaimed each year. Get your money’s worth from the guidance counselor, do your research and start prioritizing. We really like this one.
5. Letters of recommendation
Most wait until the last minute. Don’t be that guy. Ask early.
6. Campus visits
Colleges offer open houses and campus tours all year long. Don’t wait to schedule one (or three). Absorb the tours but wander off the beaten path. Talk to students in the bookstore. Go to a coffee shop.
Is this a place you can picture yourself? So much of campus tours are about feel but it can be an overwhelming process. There’s a lot to absorb. Take lots of notes and snapshots to refresh your memory in a few months.
7. The nitty gritty
Fall of senior year is typically when the search hits high gear: Taking or retaking SATs or ACTs, writing and perfecting admissions essays, scheduling interviews, exploring costs and financial aid and completing the free application for federal student aid.
Phew. Take a breath. It’s going to be OK.
8. Enter to win the easiest scholarship contest on the planet
Top off your college fund by entering the We Are The Independents monthly scholarship drawing from the Michigan Colleges Alliance. You could win $2K in 2 minutes.
9. Make a call
Decisions, decisions. At some point, fate is out of your hands. It can be an anxious time. But if you’ve done everything on the list, take a bow. Even if you haven’t but have met all the deadlines, take a bow. There’s nothing you can do about it now but wait.
We understand that at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds.
Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.