5 Things High School Seniors Must Do Now to Prepare for College

Between finals, proms, and graduation ceremonies, fit these things in for a smooth transition this fall.

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Connor Cerniglia (left) and Jackie Hanna (right), are recent graduates from St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis, MD. Both were accepted to colleges after applying early decision.

While high school seniors are currently consumed with completing final classwork, addressing graduation announcements, and attending once-in-a-lifetime social events, college will be soon upon them. Here are the things they can be sandwiching in between cap and gown fittings and senior prom in order to be ready when they switch gears from high school to college.

JULIE:

Parents often find it hard to get their distracted high school seniors to attend to college details, but here are a few things to keep on them about:

1. Make a final college decision: National decision day is just a couple of weeks away, but some high school seniors take that decision right down to the wire. While it's hard to focus on much other than those fun, final weeks of high school, the sooner a college decision is made, the sooner other details will fall into place. Plus, some of them are time sensitive, so making a decision sooner rather than later benefits the student.

[Follow these 10 steps to pick the right school.]

2. Complete the FAFSA: The Free Application for Student Financial Aid is something that you and your student will want to complete together—and there are deadlines involved. The federal deadline for the upcoming school year is June 30, and the state and school deadlines will vary. In addition, some types of financial aid are first come, first served, so it benefits your student to get the FAFSA turned in early.

LINDSEY:

The end of senior year can be one of the busiest times of the year for students. If you've finished most of your high school credits, however, you may have some newfound free time. Here's how to use that extra time to your benefit. I promise it will pay off in the fall!

1. Finish the housing application process: Depending on your school's housing process, you may already have received your residence hall and roommate information. If not, however, getting student housing taken care of can be a huge relief for college-bound students.

[Find out how to choose and keep a roommate.]

Knowing where and with whom you'll be living makes it easier to picture yourself at school and can be a catalyst to defining other parts of your college life, such as room décor, part-time employment, and parking arrangements or public transit.

2. Research possible majors: When I came to the University of Kansas, I knew right from the start that I wanted to major in journalism. This allowed me to become a direct admit to the journalism school (a luxury I did not understand until I saw my friends apply this year as sophomores). I also received a freshman scholarship from the journalism school to augment my scholarship from the university. Check to see if the majors you're considering have perks like this as well.

If you're not certain what you want to study in college, use this time to research those that sound the most interesting to you. This may save you time and money once you get to college by avoiding the numerous major switches that can plague undergrads.

[Use these 10 suggestions to cut college costs.]

3. Sign up for new student orientation: Orientation sessions can fill up fast, and your school may have specific sessions for your major that you'll need to get into. If you're busy with sports, work, or vacation during the summer, make sure to register for orientation sooner rather than later to ensure you find a session you can attend.

An inside tip: Attendees at earlier sessions are usually able to get into those general education classes that fill up quickly. Get the earliest session you can in order to make it into those popular courses.