College is an exciting time you’ll never forget. Getting in takes work, but it’s easier if you’re proactive.
You’ve already worked hard to get where you are. Now’s the time to put in the effort — it’s time to get started.
This is a big decision, but you don’t have to do it alone; chat with friends or hold a family meeting to get your parents’ input.
Identify scholarship opportunities and explore financial aid options. Gather necessary tax information to get a leg up for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Begin mapping out majors you’re interested in. Consider your future career and earning potential.
Get a job and start saving for college. Do community service and learn about different fields and opportunities — it will all help you gain experience for a resume.
Senior Year: Fall
Gather all the information you need and pay close attention to deadlines. Look online, ask community organizations and talk to your high school counselor to find scholarship opportunities.
Get the most money out of your FAFSA by submitting it early. It opens on Oct. 1. You’ll need your parents help filing your FAFSA, so plan time to work through it together.
Complete your applications and write admission and scholarship essays. Collect letters of recommendation based on who knows you best.
Tip: Give letter writers plenty of notice and help them out by providing your resume. U of I does not require letters of recommendation.
Senior Year: Winter
Students who submit all their info by Dec. 1 will be considered for all available scholarships. After Dec. 1, students will be considered on a rolling basis as admissions and FAFSA applications are received.
Take a moment to be proud of all you’ve done. You’ve worked hard and deserve a pat on the back.
Make the most of the holiday season — tell your loved ones you want to save for college this season. Or make a list of what you’ll need for your dorm room and ask for those items.
Watch for letters to begin rolling in. Start weighing options as they arrive.
Senior Year: Spring
Keep track of financial aid offers and calculate how they’ll help you pay for college. For U of I, review and accept your financial aid awards on VandalWeb.
Think about the best fit financially, socially and academically. Hold a family meeting to discuss options and paying for college.
This is it! Time to make your selection and put down a deposit. If you choose U of I, we do not require a deposit.
Your final semester grades could affect your scholarships. So, stay on it. Make sure your guidance counselor knows where to send your final high school transcripts.
Your college advisor will help you plan your class schedule. Keep in mind popular classes fill up quickly, so register early. At schools that don't require a deposit, like U of I, registering for classes is how you confirm you're attending.
Senior Year: Summer
If you haven't already, set up your email account. Check it regularly for important information.
Continue to save for college by getting a summer job. Every dollar saved is an investment in your future.
At U of I, the University Honors Program requires a separate application
There are lots of changes coming up in your life, so talk to your friends, family and college representatives. Get advice and ask anything that’s on your mind. Lots of people want to help you succeed.