by Alyssa Pena and Lauren Holzmann | staff writer and arts and entertainment editor

Anxiously, you open your little metal mailbox and peer inside to find only one large envelope addressed to you. With excitement bubbling up inside you, you snatch it up and run back to your house, straight into your living room where your parents are waiting, screaming at the top of your lungs. You tear the envelope apart and read the letter enclosed. ‘Congratulations…’

Now that the second semester has started, many seniors are preparing themselves for what is to come now that they are on the last lap to graduation. Acceptance letters are flying in for many while others haven’t even started applying. For all of those who have been accepted, the race isn’t over yet. There is still so much students need to do before they can officially call themselves a college freshman.

“Well one of the things [seniors] should start working on is their financial aid part of going to college, and that means completing their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) which opened January 1st,” counselor Amy Dominguez-Ibarra said. “The priority deadline for the majority of Texas schools is March 15 and so they [seniors] want to encourage their parents to complete their taxes as soon as possible, so they can have the most updated information to start their FAFSA.”

FAFSA

Once parents receive their tax information, students are encouraged to begin on their FAFSA application

In order to get the ball rolling on FAFSA, students and their parents need to make a FAFSA identification number.

“It takes about two to three days to get their ID back. They will need that personal ID for themselves, and their parent will need to have one as well, so they can sign their FAFSA and submit it online as soon as possible,” Dominguez-Ibarra said

Along with FAFSA, students should also start looking at scholarship opportunities. By applying for scholarships, seniors can lessen the amount of money they will have to pay back in student loans

“I know a lot of students will show up in May and say, ‘I need scholarships what do I do?’”, Dominguez-Ibarra said. “They need to go on to the Johnson website and click on ‘Pay for College’ and then right at the top, there are several links that will take them to specific financial aid websites where they can look for scholarships.”

Pay for College

In addition to FAFSA, students should visit the Johnson counselor webpage for scholarship options.

Students often don’t realize the impact college will have on their future and career, depending on what field they are interested in pursuing.

“It’s important that students understand that in the long term, they are going to make more money,[and] will be able to get a job that they are going to be happy with.  And if they’re not, they’ll be able to make changes because they have a degree, or they do have some skills that they can move on to a new job with,” Dominguez-Ibarra said. “So students that don’t go to college are not going to have as many opportunities as students that do have their degree, or students that do have the training to go into the [work] force.”

Many students have already passed one hurdle in the final sprint to college- receiving an acceptance letter in the mail- but they are far from finishing the race. Graduation day is still months away, and seniors are already looking towards the future.

“[I chose Rice because] it’s a prestigious school, and it’ll give me a good job, I hope,” senior Miranda Cole said.

Sometimes, students choose their schools for their desired major, especially when it provides them with better opportunities in the future.

“I know that there’s going to be a lot of career opportunities[for an engineering major],” senior Katie Roper said. “You know, I’m a woman so only 5% of women are engineers. I think there would be a lot of demand for jobs in that field.”

However as high school and its many ‘lasts’ come to an end, students sometimes tend to get caught up in the drama and not realize that their future should take priority.

“[Seniors need] to realize what’s important in life and what isn’t,” senior class sponsor Megan Stokes said. “Drama is not important; the people around you are, and your studies are. And I would say to try and keep everything in perspective, take a deep breath, and relax.”

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About The Author

Lauren Holzmann is a senior at Johnson High School and is a second year writer for MyJagNews. She is currently the Arts and Entertainment editor. She is also involved in orchestra where she holds an officer position as well as a member in the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Friends Club and is a peer tutor for the special needs students. When she isn't working, Lauren is usually hanging out with friends or binge watching multiple shows simultaneously on Netflix. She is also perfectly capable of remembering every Parks and Recreation episode ever made and wishes she was able to try waffles from JJ's Diner. She has 3 dogs, each more stubborn than the next and a younger sister with whom she shares her birthday.

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