College Prep - Checklist for 11th Graders
February 16, 2015 governmentgrants.info Staff
Preparing for college requires a lot of careful forethought and planning. If you wait until your senior year to begin the process, you will find you are too late in the game to effectively prepare. There are some important steps that 11th graders need to take in order to earn that acceptance letter.
In the fall of your 11th grade, you should take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). If you score high enough, you may be qualified to earn scholarships. In the spring of your 11th grade, you will need to register for and take college admission exams such as the SAT, SAT subject tests, or the ACT. Different colleges have different requirements for standardized testing, so inquire into their specific application processes. If you need help paying the registration fees for any of these tests, talk to your school counselor about fee waiver options. Most importantly, don’t forget to study and prepare yourself for the test to ensure the best scores possible.
Spring of your 11th grade is also the time to search for scholarships that you can apply to. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website and utilize their scholarship search feature. Do this early, as many scholarship applications are due in the summer before 12th grade begins. Learn how to avoid scholarship scams so you can navigate the application processes safely.
Throughout your entire time in the 11th grade, you should be actively exploring career paths that might be of interest to you. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook to learn about different jobs and earning potential in various fields. Or visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website and try out their free career search tool.
Once you have discovered the type of career that appeals to you, you can begin finding colleges that offer corresponding fields of study. Visit the local college fairs in your area and attend workshops and presentations given by college representatives. If you’ve done your research, then you should have your list of potential colleges narrowed down by the summer before 12th grade.
At this point, college visits are important whenever possible. By visiting the schools that interest you, you’ll be able to see firsthand what life as a student there would be like. Once you have decided on what schools you want to apply to, contact the colleges’ admissions offices and request information on financial aid, admission requirements and application deadlines. Most schools offer an early decision or early action program to prospective students. The application deadlines for these programs is much sooner than you might expect, so it’s important to learn about the requirements early on.
It’s also important at this stage in the game to explore your options for paying for college. Use the FAFSA4caster financial aid estimator to see what type of aid you can expect to receive. Compare this to the costs of the schools you want to apply to and see what the difference is. Financial aid and scholarships will help lighten the financial burden of attending college, and there are federal loans available to borrow. Of course, those loans will need to be paid back with added interest tacked on, so you want to make every effort to minimize the amount of money you need to borrow for college.