It’s time for March Madness. There’s no doubt that there will be astonishing highs and unprecedented lows. Unexpected underdogs will emerge victorious and surprises will be plentiful.
Although the nation is familiar with the frenzy over basketball this time of year, the March Madness that I am referring to has nothing to do with basketball. In fact, I am talking about high school seniors during the college admissions process.
There are three reasons that this time of year is particularly maddening for high school seniors:
1. Seniors are receiving news about college acceptance – During this time of year, high school seniors all over the country are receiving admissions decisions from their intended schools. Some students who have not thoughtfully applied to college are rethinking their choices.
2. Students are starting to deal with the financial reality of college costs – After filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in the early part of the year, students are starting to receive detailed information about the amount and type of aid for which they are eligible. Some students are underwhelmed by the award letter that they have received.
3. Despite senioritis setting in, 12th graders have to struggle with the fact that grades are still important – Several times in my career, I have been approached by universities inquiring about a senior’s third quarter grades, to the great dismay of these students.
For many seniors, it’s too late. However, in order for underclassmen to avoid the unfortunate fate of March Madness, take these three steps:
1. Apply to a variety of different schools – Make sure that applications are sent to not only reach schools, but also to schools for which you fit the academic profile.
2. Use the winter of senior year to apply for scholarships – Don’t wait until you receive an unfavorable Student Aid Report (SAR) before college finances are seriously considered.
3. Pay close attention to course selection and academic performance during senior year – Don’t fall prey to the long-held myth that 12th grade is of little importance in the college admission process. Actions and decisions during the final year of high school can have lasting effects on a student’s college aspirations.
If underclassmen follow all of the advice above, they are destined to be champions in the college admissions process.
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