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College Planning: Being Prepared

June 22, 2018

​As you start to think about planning for the next phase of your life, there are a lot of great things to consider. Make sure to cover all the bases so that you have a prepared, well planned, smooth transition to your school of choice. Doing this will give you more time to spend on your classes and new friends and you will not have to worry about things you may have missed that can cause issues down the road.

Before you start picking out classes it is important to pick the right school. There are many choices out there for training and education and it’s important to make the best decision based on all the variables.

1. Research, research, research! You want to be sure that you know about all the potential schools you could attend and find out which one will be the best fit for you and your situation. Attending college fairs, looking online, speaking to current or alumni of schools, college visits and meetings with admissions staff are all great ways to research schools and get a feel for the atmosphere and culture of the college.

2. Gather your information to apply! You will need to meet certain requirements to apply/attend each college or program. It is important that you have all the necessary information before applying to make the process smooth. Don’t forget there can be application fees and essay requirements, so be aware and prepared for those. You may also need your:

  • ACT/SAT scores
  • High School transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Lists of extracurricular activities
  • GPA
  • Class rank 

3. You may need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many schools require students to do this to help get your financial aid, grants, and loans in order and to assess your eligibility for financial aid specific to that school.

Now that you have applied, you will find out if you have been accepted or enrolled at the school. After you have been accepted and decide on a school/program based on cost, financial aid, location, and other factors, you will need to be sure to read all communications you receive from the school. It can be either by mail or e-mail. Much of the information they send may have forms or other important information that you will need to read and complete prior to starting. Make sure you complete and understand all of these things, and if you have questions contact the school for more information. Some of the things you may need to do:

  • Complete a placement or Compass test prior to starting classes so the school will know what Math and English classes you need to take.
  • Register for classes.
  • Fill out housing information.
  • Meet with your advisor and declare a major.
  • Find out about on and off campus jobs.
  • Order your books.
  • Accept or provide further information for financial aid and school loans.

You have now covered all your bases and taken care of all of the research, leg work, and follow-up. Now you are ready to start your educational journey. Be sure to stay involved, network, and succeed in your classes and make the most out of your experience!

Resources for College Planning on Illinois workNet:
High School Career Planning
College Admission Tests: ACT, SAT & GRE
College and Training Resources
Decision Making Process When Selecting a Training Program

Financial Aid and Support Resources on Illinois workNet:
Supporting Yourself While In School
5 Tips When Applying For Financial Aid
How to Make Informed Student Loan Decisions
What Kind of Financial Aid is Right for You?
7 Phases of College Financial Aid Award Packaging

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