January College Search Tips

Published by Wendy Nelson on

happy-new-year-mdHappy New Year!  Here at My Kid’s College Choice, I am committed to starting the new year off with a bang!  I changed up the website design on January 1 and I am using my spare time this month to update the Full Scholarship List.

Today, I have some tips for where you should be in the college search in January, depending on where your child is in high school:

January College Search Tips for High School Seniors

  1. File the FAFSA – There are many reasons to file, even if you don’t think you will receive any financial aid.  I have posts that will help you determine if you will be eligible for financial aid and explain some reasons to file the FAFSA.  I recommend estimating your 2014 federal income tax liability and filing early.
  2. Finish College Applications – Many students will have all their applications in before the new year and will be able to sit back and wait for acceptance letters.  For those who are not finished, I recommend getting their remaining applications in ASAP.
  3. Final College Visits – Especially for students who already have multiple acceptance letters in hand, start planning college visits to help make the final college choice.
  4. Admission Interviews – If your student has applied to any schools that offer or require admission interviews, get those scheduled now.  Even if the interview is optional, it will show a greater level of “demonstrated interest.”
  5. Think Scholarships – Once the college application process is complete, it’s time for students to turn their attention to scholarship applications.  Local scholarships and major merit scholarships offered directly through the colleges are your best bet.  Check with the high school counseling office for local scholarships available in your area.  Check the college websites for any merit scholarships that require students to fill out a separate application (some of these scholarships use the admissions application).

January College Search Tips for High School Juniors

  1. Think ACT/SAT – Many Juniors will have taken at least one ACT or SAT test already.  Now is the time to work on improving scores.  Check out the available test prep options and help your student plan when to take the test again.
  2. College Visits – Spring semester of Junior year should be the big push for college visits.  January is a great time to get these scheduled.  Spring Break can be a great time to get a couple visits in as many colleges will be in session during your high school student’s break.  Many colleges offer special visit programs on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President’s Day.
  3. Research Affordability – As a parent, now is a great time to research college affordability if you haven’t done that already.  Check out the posts in my Paying for College category for tips.  Get an idea of what you will have to pay for college using the FAFSA forecaster.

January College Search Tips for High School Sophomores

What?  You want us to think about the college search already?  Yes, Sophomore year is a good year to get started!  The focus Sophomore year should be on PREPARATION.

  1. Academic Preparation – Focus on top grades for second semester and signing up for the right classes for Junior year.
  2. Activity Preparation – Focus on what will look good for college admissions:  Not too many activities, in-depth participation, working towards leadership positions, help your child figure out and demonstrate his/her passions.
  3. Test Preparation – Start preparing for PSAT (taken October of Junior year) and ACT/SAT.
  4. College Visits – Spring of Sophomore year is a good time to do a first college visit to get your student thinking about what college is like.

Help your college-bound student start the new year off right with strong preparation for college.