How Students Can Start Preparing For College

Rachel Hesse

With college weighing heavily on the minds of most high school students, it is important to develop habits to reduce stress and to stay on top of deadlines. Over the summer, Durant High School hired a new College and Career counselor, Samantha Origlia, to help guide students on their path to college.

Both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Bright Futures Scholarship application opened for the Senior Class of 2021 on October 1. FAFSA will be open until June 30, 2021 and Bright Futures will be open until August 31 after high school graduation, however it is recommended to start the application process as soon as possible.

For questions about dates for college tours, applications, and scholarships, students can visit Origlia in the guidance department. She has created a Canvas group for each grade level that lists the dates for a majority of college webinars and instructions on the application process for FAFSA and Bright Futures.

Applying for colleges can be overwhelming with all the different options for applications and application fees. Origlia advises seniors to make a list of colleges of interest and pick about four to apply to, depending on financials, keeping in mind each college requires an application fee of around $30.

To simplify the application process, Origlia mentioned there are apps, such as Common App and Coalition App, that can be used to aid students in the application process. Mainly, she recommends utilizing the traditional method of applying on the college’s main website, which was what she did when applying for college. “I just like[d] going directly to the college [website] because I’m like, ‘this has to be the right information,’ …it’s not going through a third party, which I personally like.”

Some things students at any grade level can do to prepare for college, according to Origlia, include creating a separate email account to help with organization by keeping any college emails separate from personal emails and making spread sheets to keep track of application due dates, college events, and other information about specific colleges.

There are checklists posted for each month on Origlia’s Canvas page and the College Board website. She also suggests following any colleges of interest on social media to receive extra information about special opportunities colleges organize for students.

On her Canvas page, Origlia has incorporated a whole section just for scholarships, including local scholarships posted with website links and due dates. Many scholarships become available in the October and November, so it is important to look out for opportunities early in the year and start preparing. Besides her list on Canvas, Origlia suggested checking out Scholarship 360 and College Board for additional scholarships.

Many scholarships require essays to be submitted with the application, so Origlia suggested writing general essays based on past prompts to prepare and to identify key points that can be utilized later. When writing final essay submissions, be cautious to use proper grammar and include something to make the essay stand out from the others.

While prepping for college is stressful, taking small steps now, like staying organized and getting ahead on due dates, will be beneficial in lightening the workload and will give students time for relaxation and social events.

Follow Origlia’s Durant CC page on Instagram for posts about college related reminders and information updates for Durant Students.