Being the first to do anything can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Well, that’s how I felt my senior year in high school, especially since I was a first generation college student .
My parents entered the workforce immediately after high school to help provide for my family (thanks, mom and dad!). So, this was a learning experience that my parents and I had to undergo together and let me tell you, it was difficult for us!
From trying to decipher financial aid and college forms to remembering important deadlines, it was different for us, mainly because we didn’t have anyone in our family navigate this pathway before.
The areas I wish I had assistance with were Admissions, Financial Aid and the Enrollment Process. Although I didn’t have someone to help guide me through the college process, I will try and be THAT person for YOU!
For colleges that are not open-enrollment, the deadlines tend to be in the Fall. Before you apply for admissions to any school, I encourage you to do research on the programs they offer. Also, if you are not sure what you want to major in, see if they have an exploratory or “undecided” major – that allows you to take courses from different programs of study whilst being eligible for financial aid.
After submitting your admissions application, I highly recommend contacting the admissions office to learn the next steps. Every institution is different, so if you are applying to more than one institution, make sure you contact each of them to ensure you have an accurate timeline.
You can essentially apply for financial aid the same time you apply for admissions! Whenever students walk in our office wanting assistance with completing their college application(s), we innately ask them if they completed the FAFSA. If you completed both, it doesn’t stop there – admissions may require additional documents like official transcripts and/or test scores, and financial aid may require documentation, too! So, make sure you provide a working email because a lot of the correspondence from the school is sent via email! See Financial Aid: A date to remember… for more information on financial aid.
Enrolling into Classes
Admissions and enrolling into classes are two different things, but both are time-sensitive! Before you can enroll in classes, most institutions, if not all, require you to be admitted to the institution. Here are some helpful tips to assist you with enrollment –
- Meet with an academic/program advisor – your advisor will guide you through choosing your classes. You can find their contact information on your school’s website. Make contact as early as possible – don’t wait until you arrive on campus!
- Books and Course Materials – You can rent textbooks online, buy used textbooks, or save a tree and download an electronic version
- Check Your Student Account for Tuition and Fees – if financial aid did not cover all your expenses, you will need to pay your bill or set up a payment plan (if available)
If you miss any deadlines, don’t give up or lose momentum! Contact the institution if they have extensions available and if not, ask when the next term starts and work towards that deadline.
If you need any assistance with navigating the college process and/or developing a plan for your postsecondary endeavors, contact the ACPE Success Center for free assistance!