The Ultimate College Prep Checklist
Does the idea of preparing for college stress you out? If you feel like you do not even know where to start, or like you are lost in a tangle of documents to fill out, emails to send, and items to buy for your dorm, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. But preparing for college does not need to be difficult – with the right information and organization, college prep can be easy – as easy as checking boxes off a list like this one.
The summer before my senior year of high school, I came to Concordia on an official campus visit. Visits at Concordia can be personalized, part of a group visit day, or even virtual! A campus visit is usually one of the first items you can check off your college-prep list, and often occurs before you apply to any schools. Visiting a college campus, if you can, is extremely useful. Asking questions of faculty members, department heads, and current students can provide invaluable information that can guide you in an eventual college decision.
Complete Your Financial Aid
College is a hefty financial commitment – whether you plan to attend a small private college or a large public university, tuition can cost several thousand dollars per semester. However, Concordia has easily accessible financial aid information and awards each undergraduate student an average of $29,000 in institutional aid every year. You will need to fill out financial aid documents like the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which opens in December 2023, and accept the personalized financial aid package that Concordia offers.
Make a Packing List – And Go Shopping!
For some students, this item on the college-prep checklist is the most fun. Dorm décor in the form of plants, cute rugs, and pleasing desk organizers can be exciting to buy, and it can even be enjoyable to buy towels, bedding, or new books. For others, shopping can be a bore. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of college-shopping enjoyment, it is a crucial stage of the journey to college preparation. Part of your packing list should also include essential documents like a copy of your health insurance card, your car insurance (if applicable), and your driver’s license.
Pay Attention to Deadlines
As soon as the summer before your senior year (or even sooner, in some cases), some big deadlines are going to come your way. These can include anything from deadlines for turning in scholarship essays, to completing the FAFSA, to reporting ACT and SAT scores to your university of choice. So – pay attention! Make a list of important deadlines that are coming up and stick to it. This spares you the feeling of dread that can come with realizing that you have missed the deadline to complete something important.
Apply for Honors Programs and Scholarships
Scholarship money can add up quickly and be a crucial resource in the process of paying for college. At Concordia, merit-based, talent-based, and participation scholarships abound, supporting students in music, e-sports, art, programming, speech and debate, theatre, Collegiate Leadership Competition, and a wide variety of athletic programs. Concordia students also have the unique opportunity to apply for honors programs, including the Luke Scholars program, which represents students across many academic disciplines, and Uzziah Scholars, which is specific to agriculture students. Again, check deadlines and apply to honors programs and for scholarships earlier rather than later!
Set Some Goals
Your freshman year of college is likely to be a uniquely challenging time in your life. Most freshmen are living away from home for the first time; many are living in a different city than their hometown and facing new academic pressures. Setting goals – that is, realistic goals – for your freshman year of college can benefit you both in the short- and long-term. These goals could be academic (“I plan to write my assignments in my planner as soon as I receive them in class”) or personal (“I plan to put myself out there and join at least one club”). Setting goals is a vital step on the path to having a great college experience.
Receive Course Schedule and Roommate Assignment
This item on your college-prep checklist is something that you can check off after receiving it from your first-year coordinator at Concordia! Your assigned advisor will work on creating a class schedule for your first semester, which you can find on Concordia’s online portal. In the same place, you will find your roommate and rooming assignment during the summer after your senior year, along with your new roommate’s email address!
Reach Out and Ask Questions
The best action you can take when you’re unsure of the next steps in your college preparation journey is to ask questions! When in doubt, send your first-year coordinator an email; they are prepared to answer all sorts of questions or direct incoming freshmen to someone who can. Whether you are wondering about how your dual-enrollment credits will transfer or about the process for accommodating food allergies, never hesitate to reach out!
In addition, reach out to your roommate. Building a relationship with your roommate and getting to know him or her before the two of you ever live together is an essential step in establishing a strong future friendship.
Don’t Forget School Supplies!
In the hectic period that is the time between your high school graduation and your first day of college, you are bound to have a lot to think about. However, don’t let school supplies be something that you fail to think about! Yes, college is quite different from high school, but you still need pencils, pens, and notebooks – even a backpack, which will come in handy when you need to walk across campus to a class. And do not forget that in college, textbooks are the student’s responsibility. On Concordia’s bookstore website, you can easily locate and buy all the textbooks that you will need for your classes.
Spend Time with Family and Friends
Amid all the moving parts of your college preparation, do not forget to spend time with your friends and family. They can provide great comfort and support as you begin this new chapter in your life. As your time at home before you begin your first year of college winds down, even if you are not moving far away, take time with the important people in your life. Your parents, friends who will attend different universities, and other people who you may not see as much during your time at college are all people with whom you may want to spend time in the period before you begin college.
So, wherever you are on your college-prep journey, keeping track of what you need to do is extremely helpful. Above all, rejoice! When your preparation ends, the exciting journey that is college has just begun! “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
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