Next Steps: What to Do After You Choose a College Congratulations! You have selected a college. The next few months are going to be incredibly busy and exciting ones, as you prepare for the transition to college. Here's a checklist of common tasks for parents and students once that final college choice is made. Read All College Materials Carefully There's a reason the envelope is fat. Besides the acceptance letter, you'll also find information on orientation, financial aid, housing, meal plans, and more to help your child make a smooth transition. Much of the information will require prompt decisions and responses, so pay close attention to any deadlines. Send the Tuition Deposit If your college follows the National Candidate's Reply Date, you should have until May 1 to send in the tuition depositâ€”some schools may have earlier deadlines, so take note of the reply date in materials that you received. The deposit signals your acceptance of the college's offer of admission and reserves a place in the first-year class. Turning in the deposit late (or not at all) can jeopardize your child's acceptance. Good newsâ€”many colleges allow families to make deposit payments online using credit cards. Make a Decision on Financial Aid The award letter will outline the various types of financial aid you have been offered, including gift aid (scholarships and grants) and self-help aid (loans and work-study). Here are some award letter tips to keep in mind: You are not required to accept the entire aid package as offered. For example, some students decline a work-study amount or accept a loan for a lesser amount. If there are any significant changes to your family's financial aid status or contact information, you must inform the financial aid office. Make sure that you complete, sign, and return the form by the designated deadline. Take Care of Education Loan Paperwork If you accept student loans as part of the aid package, it probably will require filling out loan application forms before the start of the semester. Most student borrowers must also undergo loan counseling or a loan interview before funds are dispersed. Loan counseling can be done online and typically consists of a short set of questions to make sure you understand the rights and obligations of a borrower. If your parents have decided to take out parent loans such as PLUS, they will need to complete and return a promissory note.
Housing If you are planning to live at school, you will have to apply for on-campus housing. At some point, you'll receive information about the dormitory, including a housing contract and deposit form, move-in dates and instructions, roommate questionnaire, resident rules and regulations, and an overview of services, such as laundry and package delivery. Read this information carefullyâ€”you'd be surprised how many first-year students and their parents have shown up on campus, bags in hand, a day before move-in! Schedule a Physical Most colleges require incoming students to submit the results of a recent physical exam, along with vaccination history. Try to take care of this paperwork well before you leave for college. Turning in this paperwork late can delay registration for classes. Go Shopping Do you have everything needed for the first year at college? If shopping for college has got you overwhelmed, check out the Off-to-College Checklist. With everything from a laundry bag, to underwear, to the all-important coffee maker, our list has got your family covered. Get a Computer If you don't already own a computer, strongly consider purchasing or leasing one. All students will need a computer to access online course materials, conduct research via the Internet, and read and send email. Some colleges require that all incoming students own or purchase a computer, and will even subsidize the purchase. If you have questions about the computer requirements at your college, contact their information services department. Reminders Here are a few last-minute things you should remember to do in the transition from high school to college: Write thank-you notes to those who helped with the college application process, including counselors, teachers, the office staff (especially the Registrar), and all those who wrote you recommendation letters. Study for college placement exams, especially in languages and mathematics. You might get college credit, advanced placement, or an exemption from a required course. Sign up for orientation: both for international students and for all freshmen. Fill out the Final Transcript Request form, so that the Registrar will send a final copy of your high school transcript to the admissions office. Pay for all of the transcripts and postage.