College can seem like it’s a long way in your future, but there are things you can do now to prepare for applying for colleges during your senior year!
1. Think about your future career.
What are your interests and talents?
What subjects do you like best in school?
Knowing the answers to these questions can go a long way in helping you decide on a college major or program.
If you need help getting started, UtahFutures has interest and career assessments that help you figure out potential career choices that align with your natural talents. Once you have an idea of what you want to study, you see which colleges offer that major or program. Utah colleges and universities offer a wide selection of majors.
2. Research what colleges you’d like to apply to.
Are you someone who likes a big city or a small town?
Do you want to go somewhere close to home or move far away?
Is a small college or large university the best fit for you?
And don’t forget to think about opportunities outside of just the academic side:
What about study abroad, student government, intramural sports or internships?
Luckily, Utah has many different colleges available here in the state that offer a variety of academic and extracurricular programs. Probably the most helpful thing to do to see if a college is right for you is to schedule a tour and visit the campus. Each school will have slightly different activities and resources and a tour will help you figure out which fit is best for you. Universities and colleges in Utah offer clubs, volunteer opportunities, lectures, on-campus employment, fitness facilities, concerts, plays, and more! Contact the admissions office at the colleges you want to visit to set up a guided tour.
3. Get advice from your family, friends, and community.
Ask your family and friends, neighbors, teachers, and school counselors what they liked about college, what they found challenging, and what advice they can give you. These people know you, so their recommendations and advice can be tailored to you specifically.
4. Understand the cost of college.
Figuring out the cost of college can be stressful, especially when it seems so high. But as you decide where to apply, remember that not all colleges cost the same and there are a variety of ways to cut the cost of college and save money.
The most important thing you can do is submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing a FAFSA is the only way to receive federal financial aid for college and if you don’t submit it, you might be missing out on money for college. The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal financial aid (like grants, work-study, and student loans) as well as aid from the state and the college you choose to go to.
5. Search for scholarships and start applying now.
Did you know that you can start applying for college scholarships right now? Many students think they need to wait until their senior year or until they have been accepted to college, but that is not the case.
There are scholarships out there for students as young as second grade. Follow StepUp Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and sign up for the StepUp newsletter to receive information about scholarships that you can apply for.