So you have a high school senior, now what?
Well, it’s that time already. How did it get here so quickly? When your baby started kindergarten, it seemed like sending them off to college was a lifetime away, but here it is…their senior year.
Isn’t it stressful? So much to do to prepare for next year.
Finishing up those college visits, college applications, scholarship applications, and that dreaded FAFSA – all while working on their regular school work! It’s become a full-time job just to get it all done, and it’s all at a time when we’re trying to figure out how on earth we’ll be able to let them fly.
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I think we could all use help navigating senior year and since I’ve been through it already, I thought I’d help you with some tips that I wish I had known my first time around.
If you haven’t already done so, sign-up for College Board.
When you log in for the first time, bring your patience. There’s an insane amount of information that you need to fill out, but thankfully after it has been completed, you won’t have to fill it out again. On this site, you’ll be able to:
- Narrow down colleges that would be a good fit for your child.
- Sign-up for SATs and ACTs.
- Links to help your student study for these exams.
IMPORTANT TIP: If your student needs extra help in school (including the SATs and ACTs), Khan Academy is a must-have resource! It got my kids through several of their classes.
We made the mistake of waiting until January of my son’s senior year to start working on scholarship applications. By that point, many of the deadlines had already passed.
At the end of every scholarship season, there are millions of dollars left untouched, so give yourself and student as much opportunity as possible to earn everything you can.
Yes, they are time-consuming, but it’s FREE money and worth every penny.
- Check the guidance office at school for a list of scholarships available along with their deadlines.
- scholarships.com is another great resource.
IMPORTANT TIP: Start on the last page of scholarships and work backward. Most people begin on page one and then get tired after awhile so they don’t make it to the end of the list. (A big thanks to a friend for that great tip!)
Start college applications EARLY
This is another tedious job, but there’s just no way around it. Many guidance counselors will help with this, so be sure to take advantage of the help. After all, they’ve been through this many times and often know exactly what the schools are looking for.
- Check the application deadlines. You don’t want to miss the deadline to their #1 choice!
- Most, if not all, schools have an application fee, so be prepared when applying.
- To help make this laborious task easier, I highly recommend The Planning for College Planner from Almost Empty Nest. It will walk you through everything you need to prepare for college. (Because seriously, it’s an emotional time and the last thing you need is to add to that stress. Am I right?)
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Ah….the famous FAFSA!
The first time you fill this out can be a little confusing, just take a deep breath and answer each question. It’s really not as bad everyone makes it out to be. In fact, you can now easily transfer your tax information in with just a few simple clicks.
It used to be that you had to wait until January 1st to fill it out. Thankfully, they now open it on Oct 1 for the next school year.
- You’ll need your tax information available when you fill it out, even if you’re transferring it in (for verification purposes).
- Bring your patience. Once you’ve set it up for the first time, each year gets a little easier.
- It must be filled out yearly, so mark it in your calendar.
IMPORTANT TIP: Fill this out as close to Oct 1 as possible. The sooner you apply, the more money that’s available.
Start a senior SAVINGS fund
Holy moly, senior year can be so expensive!
From ordering graduation announcements to their cap and gown. Senior trip, prom, college application fees, SAT fees, graduation party. The list seems almost endless.
So start putting aside some extra money every week so you aren’t caught with empty pockets when they come calling for yet one more check!
IMPORTANT TIP: You don’t have to purchase senior announcements through the school. By all means, if it’s important to you, then buy them. If not, make your own with the never ending supply of announcements available online. I saved over $75 by designing my own.
So there you have it. A list of important tasks to take care of during your child’s senior year of high school.
It can be daunting getting through this year, but when you break it down into bite-size pieces, it becomes far less challenging.
Do you have a helpful tip for senior year? I’d love for you to share it in the comments below.
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Until next time, my friend…..
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