Every year, October starts with fall decorations, cooler weather, and high school seniors all across the United States frantically filling out FAFSA and college applications. With so many schools, and so many confusing forms, we decided to ask our College, Career, and Military Readiness Specialist, Sheryl Parker about some of the main things students need to worry about when applying to colleges.
“The first thing I ask is ‘where do you want to live?’,” Parker said. “If they’re gonna stay in Texas, they can apply for the Apply Texas application. The majority of the schools they’re gonna wanna apply to will be on that one application.”
For students looking into private or out-of-state colleges, Parker recommends the Common App.
“From there, the big thing is financial aid,” Parker said. “It takes less than an hour to fill out the application and I highly encourage students to do it. Even if you don’t think you can qualify, it doesn’t hurt to try.”
Financial aid is a requirement for graduation for Texas students. Students must fill out one of the free FAFSA applications or fill out an opt-out form.
“The other thing is that it can be overwhelming,” Parker said. “You’ve got seven classes and all this homework, and the thought of writing another essay for college application is not appealing, but I really encourage students to not recreate the wheel.”
Writing a college essay is a part of every senior English class. Instead of writing a new essay for every application, Parker recommends tweaking each essay in response to the application question.
“The vast majority of the applications ask pretty much the same thing,” Parker said. “What obstacles have you overcome in your past to this point in your life? And what do you plan on doing to change the world in the future?”
These essay questions also work for most scholarship essays. Scholarships are especially important for students who are looking to apply to colleges outside of Texas since out-of-state tuition can easily be double or triple in-state tuition.
“Kids who got the opportunity to go out of state often came back to San Antonio within their first year,” Parker said. “The students that stayed around San Antonio their first year, got their basics out of the way, lived at home for an extra year, then transferred out, finished where they ended up.”
Whether applying in-state or out, the best place to find scholarship opportunities, and information about applications can be found in the 2023 Seniors google classroom.
“Everything is there,” Parker said. “You may not know exactly what you want to do, but I say start [looking] anyways. Start early and start now.”
For any additional questions feel free to visit the College and Career Center next to the clinic in A100, or email Sheryl Parker at email@example.com.