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College Planning Checklist for Parents and Students

College planning can make you feel like Alice in wonderland.

You really want to prepare well for this exciting phase of your life. But before you go down the collegiate ‘rabbit hole’, there is just so much to think about.

It’s not just about recommendation letters, application forms, or test results. You have to brainstorm your interests, your field of study, and introspect your choices at every step of the whole admission process. A checklist can save you from the maelstrom of thoughts in your head. Here is a list of frequently asked questions with reliable answers for your help.

When to take standardised tests?

U.S. standardised test score is a pre-requisite during the admission process. These scores, combined with your academic record and previous skills, will determine your potential performance as a university student.

Standardised tests should ideally be taken a year or about 18 months before the session starts. You can repeatedly take these tests if you’re looking for better scores. You can find numerous websites, tutors, and courses over the net for preparation and sample examinations.

How to research for your college list?

Maintaining a list makes your work a whole lot easier. Focus on zones like academics, social life, rankings, and ratings. Courses offered, faculty, student-to-teacher ratio, open clubs, diversity, people with similar backgrounds, university culture, career prospects, communities, budget, and housing facilities; are some of the factors that you might want to consider while finalising your list of desired colleges. Once done eliminating, you'll have a precise list of colleges that meet your expectations.

When to go on college visits?

At Writers Qi we advise you to visit colleges after submission of application forms. A visit will then help you to resolve all your doubts and destroy the scepticism from your minds. Choose a weekday in late summer or early September or the spring of the junior year for your visit. Always contact the college administration ahead of your visit so that you don’t miss out on anything.

How to stay organised during the process?

Go all ‘Marie Kondo’ on this. Keep a calendar handy for your deadlines. A digital one would be ideal. Read all instructions thoroughly. Maintain a to-do checklist. A smart thing to do is to save your application passwords and usernames at one place ( might not be the safest).

Make sure you track your progress and pending recommendations on an Excel sheet or a notepad if you prefer that. Neatly print your applications before submitting them. Use separate folders to keep complete sets of documents. In the mad rush to be organised, don't forget to be courteous and polite.

When to start brainstorming for your personal statement and supplements?

The personal statement or essay increases your chances of getting selected. So they should be written after great deliberation. Prepare a rough but sturdy outline for your essay and improve it with time. Don’t go for a rush job. Try to highlight your strengths subtly and bring out your unique personality. Pay special heed to your tone and make sure you don’t deviate from the chosen essay question.

What about finances?

Evaluate your financial situation before getting into further planning. Research and plan out for financial aid forms. Financial aid might help to an extent, but affording your dream college could still be a tough game, so look out for scholarships and incentives. Sit down with your parents to discuss limitations and things that are off the table. Don’t forget housing, meal plans, textbooks, and other necessities and always keep a rough estimate in mind.

In a Nutshell

Don’t panic. If you’re confused, there are numerous articles, guides, websites, teachers, counsellors, and faculties for your aid. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help; try to grow your connections and research minutely. College planning might sound like a lot, but don’t worry, with a bit of preparation, you’ve got this. Yeah, really!

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