Top 5 tasks to complete before applying to colleges

Sponsored by Higher Minds of Education

Are you a high school student? A parent? With the huge task of applying to colleges looming ahead, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, Dr. Felicia Young, CEO and founder of Higher Minds of Education, has compiled a simple guide to help you get started.

Prepare for and take the ACT

Young says students should take the ACT for the first time their freshman year so they can become more comfortable with the types of questions on the test and with the timing, so they are able to finish completely.

Juniors and seniors should take the ACT as many times as needed to get their scores up to meet the requirements of their top schools. Students who prepare and study can increase their composite score by 2-3 points. ACT prep courses are worth the time and financial investment, and it’s even helpful to research and try different ones offered because you may learn something new. Also, research the testing requirements at your top college choices – some schools have waived testing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit with your high school guidance counselor

Louisiana offers two pathways to graduation for either college-bound students or career-focused students, and students choose their pathway in 10th grade. Sophomore year is a great time to have a conversation with your high school guidance counselor regarding college planning.

Guidance counselors have a wealth of information about standardized testing dates, requirements and even fee waivers. They can provide information about test prep programs, requirements to qualify for TOPS, summer programs to explore various career paths, writing programs to prep for the essay portion of the ACT and college application essays, and more.

Schedule college tours

Junior year is a great time to start compiling a list of your top five preferred schools. Contact the Admissions Office at each school to get a list of special events offered for interested high schoolers.

Apply for scholarships

Junior year is also a good time to begin your research regarding scholarship opportunities given by your top college choices, local and national businesses, civic organizations, churches and other groups. Create a spreadsheet to keep up with deadlines.

Complete the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, available online at studentaid.gov, allows you to be considered for federal student aid including grants, loans and work study jobs offered by the federal government.

You will need tax information from two years prior to the year you plan to enroll in college, so to apply for aid for the 2024-25 school year, you will need 2022 tax year forms. Other necessary items include date of birth and social security numbers for both students and parents. FAFSA applications are available beginning Oct. 1 of each year. Be prepared and create a FAFSA ID and password on Sept. 1.

As a higher educational consultant, Dr. Young provides personalized assistance in all college-related activities, and her expertise can give your student an edge when applying to colleges and for scholarships. Dr. Young also has a book coming out in late summer 2023 that will expand on all of these topics. For more information, visit hmofed.com.