Applying to college? Here’s what you need to know.

So you’ve entered your senior year of high school and you’re ready to start applying to colleges. But, you don’t know where to start. Where should I apply? How do I apply? Will I even like that college? Here are some tips to help you pick out colleges, apply for college and pick your courses.

College Visits

Many schools offer free college visits during your junior or senior year of high school. Take advantage of this. You can get into a university you may want to attend for a day, you’ll get a tour of the school and most likely there will be free food!

When you go to visit a potential college, here are some things to look for while you’re there.

Make note of the campus environment

Is the campus too small or too big for you? Is the city where the college is located too big or too small? How does the campus look? These can all be important questions to think about. Some students may want to move to a bigger town and a big college, but some may want to go to a smaller college in a smaller town.

Check out the dorms

Check out all the options of dorm living they have available. Do they have freshman only dorms? Do you want to live in a co-ed dorm or not? These are usually options you’ll have to think about when picking out where to live. Some colleges put people in dorms based on their majors, so you will be surrounded by people who have the same classes as you.

Check out the library and classroom settings

You will probably spend most of your time at the library or in a classroom. So why not check them out? See what services the university library offers. Some have writing or math centers to help you out with your homework assignments. Check out the classroom settings to see if this is somewhere you’d like to spend 75 minutes in each class period.

Applying for colleges

So you visited different college campuses and you’ve done some online research for these colleges. Now it’s time to put yourself out there and apply to them. Here’s where to start.

Fill out the applications

This is the first step. Most colleges offer online applications where you put in all your basic information. They will also ask what extracirruclar activities you were involved in the past.

Writing admissions essays

You will also be required to submit an admissions essay with your application, which will probably be the longest part of the application. Colleges will give you a list of prompts you can choose from. Make sure to proofread your paper well, before you submit it.

Gather supplemental materials

Some colleges will allow you to send them a portfolio or extra essays when applying to their college. It’s your choice to determine if these supplemental materials will make your application better or worse. Don’t send extra materials just because, send them if they make you look like a hard working student who would fit their university. Some colleges will also ask for letters of recommendation, which you can ask a teacher, coach, community service organizer or church official to write for you, as long as they know about your academic skill set.

Getting your acceptance letter

You did it! Once you get all your acceptance letters, it’s time to decide where you want to go based on the research you’ve done. Make sure to notify the college you pick that you will be attending, so you can fill out all the other information they need and you can schedule an orientation!

Course Selection

It’s time to pick out your courses, but where to start? In most orientation sessions, you will work with an academic advisor so they can help you pick out the perfect courses for you to take during your first semester.

Review the course catalog

Your university offers many courses. If you know your major, you can start with taking the basic level classes for your major and working on some of your core classes. Freshman math or English classes is a good place to start, as you will need these to graduate.

Create a schedule that works for you

Plan to sign up for four to six classes a semester. A full-time student is usually a student who takes a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. Take as many credits as you feel comfortable taking. Some students may take up to 18 or more so they can graduate faster, but don’t put yourself in that situation if you feel it may be too much for you. Plan out your schedule to make sure you have time to study, read and do homework for each class as well.

Get the required classes out the way first

Most students take their required classes within their first two years at college so they have time to focus on their major later. Plan to take your science, math, English, humanities and other core classes when you are in your freshman or sophomore year.

Register early!

You should register for your classes early, especially if you are going to a bigger college. Luckily, freshman courses usually have many seats available or multiple instructors so it’s not too hard to get into the class you need. But once you move up to your major classes, it may be harder to get into the class you need. Remember this.

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