Thank you to Ashley Gardner of Administrative Momma for writing today’s blog post. Ashley is a graduate of Middle TN State University. Her siblings have been awarded scholarships from The Peggy Perry Belcher Scholarship Fund. Her brother, Ryan was our first recipient in 2003. Enjoy reading the following words from a college graduate.
Congrats for being admitted into college!! You should definitely be proud of yourself for reaching this achievement in your educational journey. I have included below some important areas to consider when moving from receiving your college acceptance letter to the first day of class.
Admissions Office Requirements
The college admissions process doesn’t stop once you are accepted. Often there will be additional paperwork or testing required of you before you can register for your classes. This paperwork may include immunization records, official transcripts, or ACT scores. In some situations, a placement test may be required. The purpose of a placement test is to determine the appropriate classes that you need to be successful and that looks different for each student.
Freshman have another resource available to them offered by their admissions office. It is customary for most schools to provide an orientation workshop. I would strongly encourage you to make an effort to attend this orientation because it will allow you to complete items necessary to begin classes. Your orientation can include a campus tour, getting your college ID, staying in a dorm, and registering for classes.
Also, your admissions counselor will be a great point of contact for you as you navigate through your college preparations. Your counselor will assist you with your necessary paperwork, completing placement testing, and attending freshman orientation. Keep in contact with this person to ensure that you have completed all your admissions requirements.
Financial Aid Office Requirements
Financial aid is another important step in your college admissions process. Now that you have been accepted you can kick start the process to financing your education. The first step in this process is completing your FAFSA (free application for federal student aid.) This application can be found at fafsa.ed.gov and is always free to complete. By doing so, it provides the information needed to determine your grant, scholarship, and loan eligibility for federal and state funds. This information is available to you and the colleges you list on the FAFSA.
Because some financial aid is income based, you may be required to submit tax returns for yourself and your parents. This is not always a requirement but your financial aid office will let you know if this is true for you. If it is, please make sure that you provide the information that is requested timely as some financial aid has very strict deadlines.
Since the FAFSA is only for federal and state funding, you may have applied for private scholarships as well. As you begin to receive private scholarship award letters, you will need to keep those to provide copies to the financial aid office. Providing copies of your scholarship award letters will allow the financial aid office to include these funds on your account and will notify them to be expecting funds on your behalf.
Your financial aid counselor will be another great resource for you. This person can answer questions and assist you in completing paperwork. You will receive several additional documents that you will need to complete depending on the financial aid awards that receive. These documents will include a financial aid award letter, student loan documents, and possible parent loan documents.
Financial aid retention is also very important because you want to receive funding for as long as possible. Each of your financial aid awards have certain requirements that you must maintain to receive it. These requirements can include a minimum GPA, maintaining full time enrollment, community service, or reapplying each year. Keeping track of your financial aid requirements will be helpful to retain your financial aid for as long as possible.
Your educational journey may take you far away from home or just down the street. Either way it is important to consider what your living arrangements will be. If living at home, no moving will be required. However, you will need to consider transportation options to and from class. Commuters usually have a special parking tag that can be obtained from your school. Also make sure you are aware of the commuter parking areas. As a commuter, it will be important for you to know your travel time and routes to get to class on time. This information will also be helpful for those living away from home in an off campus apartment.
For those living on campus, you will have the burden of moving your stuff. When staying on campus, you may be required to live in freshman-only housing or be allowed to choose whatever housing is available. Dorm housing can provide different living options like roommates and bathroom accessibility. Keep your preferences in mind as you choose the dorm you want. However, you will not have the stress of commuting to class each day. You will also have a special parking tag that you will need if you have a car. It lets the campus security know that you are allowed to park on campus.
I hope that this information was helpful to you as you consider what to do beyond your college admission acceptance. I was a college financial aid administrator for 6 years and I have walked several families through this process. It can be intimidating but I recommend that you take it one step at a time.
Thank you Ashley for this great information!