The Ultimate College Planning Cheat Sheet (That’s Actually Not Cheating At All)
You might have crammed for exams in your college days, but now that it’s time to plan ahead for your kids, there’s no way you want to revisit late nights in the library. Giving yourself (and your kids) enough time to plan ahead is key for helping them take the next step in their education.
Making a big decision doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does the work needed to get your high school seniors to the point they’re ready to take the next step. Luckily, college planning is part of the curriculum at The Episcopal Academy. With help from Episcopal Academy Director of College Counseling Cynthia Crum, we’ve mapped out the ultimate study guide for you and your future college freshmen.
If you spent your summer touring colleges, your kids might have a few of their top choices in mind already. You’ve already been budgeting for that hefty tuition bill. Now, determine the estimated cost to your family for each school your kids are considering by using a Net Price Calculator on each college’s website.
While you’re there, take some time to review each college’s admission requirements. What does the essay portion look like? Are SAT and ACT scores required? Will there be an interview? Are scholarships available? These will help you strategize your plan before the school year starts.
Register for SAT and ACT tests early and allow time between tests. Encourage your kids to start studying a few minutes each night. They’ll want at least six weeks from the test date to start prepping. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for admission essay writing workshops, as essays are a crucial part of the application process.
Now that the school year is underway, it’s important not to let your college planning take a back seat. Register early for October SAT and ACT testing and start a study plan over the course of the next month and a half to prepare for the test. Book any last-minute college visits to ensure you can sneak a visit in before early admission materials are due.
You’ll also want to start researching and applying for scholarships in your community. Most are due September through May, and these deadlines approach quickly!
Dig out your tax returns from the prior year. Beginning October 1, you can apply for student aid using the FAFSA.
While it’s fresh in your mind, register for the November SAT, if needed. Students may perform better on their second and third attempt of these tests.
If your child has a priority school they want to attend, early application materials are typically due by November 1 and most colleges will return decisions in December.
Schedule a meeting with your school’s college counselor to review the rest of your student’s application materials. Next month you’ll start sending out applications, so having this review early in November will ensure you’re prepared to start sending your applications on time.
December 1 is typically the recommended date for submitting all non-early application materials to colleges.
If your child is taking AP courses, they can register for the AP exams in March. Taking an AP class can be beneficial to their applications as well as their placement in introductory courses. Your student’s scores on AP exams may count as college credit.
Check the mail, or more likely your email, for acceptance letters. Re-visit colleges to help you make your college choice.
May 1 marks National College Decision Day. It’s time to say “yes” to your child’s chosen school.
If you’ve registered for an AP test, they are administered in the first two weeks of May.
When graduation day rolls around, you and your future college student will be ready for the next step. Staying on track with applications, test preparation and finances will start them off in college with the tools they need to stay focused on their next graduation.
A bright future starts with a strong foundation in challenging and nurturing the mind, body and spirit, which is the mission of The Episcopal Academy. Hear about how The Episcopal Academy’s college counseling team helped these recent grads find their perfect college fit.This is a paid partnership between Episcopal Academy and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio