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How to Prepare for Application Season

At Fulfillment Fund, we know that applying to college is the biggest decision in an adolescent’s life that changes the course of their future. When you grow up in under-served communities, your chances of going to college shrink, and when neither of your parents went to college, those chances also decrease significantly. As the school year begins, so does college application season. Here are a few tips to get you through your college apps stress-free:

Spring of 11th Grade

While Application Season doesn’t officially begin until August/September, there are a couple of things you’ll want to invest your time in to make sure you don’t fall too far behind:

  • Visit as many schools as possible — even virtually.
  • Start a shortlist of schools you’d like to apply to. 
  • List all of your extracurricular activities.
  • Identify who can write you a letter of recommendation, and ask for it in advance if your teacher will no longer be there the following year.
  • Organize any other material that you can begin to work on, such as high school transcripts, and standardized tests.
  • Get your personal statement started, UC Personal Insight questions don’t change.
  • If you’ll be using the Common App, set up your account and get started.
  • If your school offers an interview option, and you are interested in participating in one, set it up ASAP so it will likely take place that summer or in the fall.

Fall of 12th Grade

Once you make it to the fall term of your senior year of high school, it’s go time!

  • Map out your target school application deadlines, including priority dates. Early decision and early action typically have a November deadline, with some apps due as early as mid-October.
  • Request your recommendation letters if you haven’t already done so – the earlier the better.
  • Apply for financial aid! The FAFSA (Free Application for Student Financial Aid) opens up on October 1st every year, but the sooner you apply, the most help you’ll get. Some aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Most private scholarships also have fall deadlines.
  • Finish your personal statement and ask a few teachers/counselors for constructive feedback while you still have time for one last edit.

Winter of 12th Grade

Early action/decision is not a luxury we all can afford. Winter is when you must complete any or all outstanding applications you would like to be considered:

  • At some schools, you can still get ahead of the curve before regular deadlines roll around. These deadlines are typically in December or early January.
  • Regular decision applications are normally in January, but can also be sometime between December and February.  
  • FAFSA/CADAA deadline: March 2 FAFSA/CADAA 

Spring of 12th Grade

Ah, yes. The waiting game! By now, you have nothing else on your checklist other than waiting for responses and making decisions. If a student does not see their financial aid award, they must contact the University Financial Aid Office to avoid any delays. But keep in mind that sometimes financial circumstances change, and you may become eligible for more aid. Be sure to connect with your Fulfillment Fund College Counselor to maximize the financial aid you will receive.

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