The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a very important document for students and their families to fill out. The FAFSA helps determine whether students are eligible for federal loans, grants or work-study programs. Many colleges also require it to be on file for their own need-based or merit-based aid packages. According to the U.S. Department of Education, over $150 billion is given to college students annually via the FAFSA. To qualify for some of that money, you must meet basic eligibility requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen (though there are exceptions) and having a high school diploma or GED. Mr. Mayowski is available to help any families fill out their FAFSA (during the school day or by appointment after school). So please contact him if you need any assistance.
What do you need to fill out the FAFSA?
- Your Social Security Number
- Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- Your most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned.
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- An FSA ID to sign electronically.
All one has to do is turn on the news and see that the cost to attend college is rising. Student loan debt is a serious issue that this country will soon have to deal with. So how can you go to college without accruing too much debt? First, you must fill out the FAFSA (more info on that is above). But once the FAFSA is completed you must consider filling out applications for scholarships.
Scholarships are money that are given to help pay for college. Unlike student loans, scholarships will never have to be repaid. With many scholarships going unawarded each year, it is in your best interest to start to apply for different scholarships. You may end up being the only one who applies for it, and thus you will have really good odds of receiving it! The amazing women of Launch Manistee put together a scholarship clearinghouse for you to look at different scholarships. Check out the link below, and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to Mr. Mayowski.
And Juniors, check out this website that has scholarships specifically for 11th grade students:
- College Visits
One of the most important things a student must do when selecting which college they want to attend is actually visiting the campus. One cannot make an informed decision on what college to go to without visiting the campuses of the schools you are interested in. A perk of taking a college visit is that you get a school excused absence when you go. So get a couple of your friends that are interested in the same college as you, and take a mini road trip and go visit it.
Here is a slideshow with questions you should be asking on your college visit. If you have any questions please contact Mr. Mayowski.
- College Essays
Some of the colleges that you apply to could require an essay in order to be accepted. While this can be stressful for some, the essay is a great opportunity to sell yourself to the college you are trying to attend. Attached is a slideshow that gives you some tips on how to write a good essay. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to Mr. Mayowski.
Some tips to remember:
- Give your essay focus by figuring out how the question relates to your personal qualities and then taking a specific angle. Make sure everything you write supports that viewpoint.
- The essay question might ask you about your best quality, an experience that shaped you, or the reason you want to attend a certain college. Don't be tempted to write what you think the admission officers want to hear; answer the question honestly.
- Show your draft to family, friends or teachers. Ask if it makes sense and sounds like you. Consider their feedback and make changes, but keep your voice.
- Take the opportunity to explain any issues from your transcripts. If you had a rough sophomore year because of mono, or your Junior year was tough due to a divorce, make sure you let the admissions rep know the reason why your grades may have suffered.
- Finally, if you got in trouble during your high school years do your best to explain what occurred. But more importantly, talk about what you learned from the incident in the essay as well. Do not be like the person below.
- Why Volunteer?
Volunteering can often be a very important part of your college application. While admissions reps sift through thousands of similar applications in the fall, they look for different aspects to stand out. You can only get your GPA so high, and your ACT (or SAT) score will only get you so far. So how else are you to get yourself to standout in the admissions process? One way to distinguish yourself, which has been seen recently as a necessity to fill, is the service/volunteering section on your application. While volunteering can be fun and rewarding by itself, there is a "right way" to do it for the college admissions process. Here are a couple of tips on how to volunteer during your high school years:
- Stick to one cause - Do Something, an organization that encourages young people to volunteer and contribute to their communities, surveyed admissions officers from 32 of the top universities in the country, ranked by US News & World Report. Seventy percent of those queried said they prefer to see a student who sticks with one cause, not one who dabbles in a laundry list of volunteer opportunities.
- Help your community - Of
those surveyed, 92 percent said they are more impressed with a
candidate who spends four years volunteering at a shelter than with
someone who commits a short period of time to helping out with a project
abroad. While it is still great to go abroad and help those in need,
know that you can make a huge difference in your own community, which
colleges will appreciate.
- Get Political If You Want - For the politically passionate, consider volunteering for your favorite candidate. Sixty-eight percent said they consider unpaid campaign work community service. If you support a candidate, get involved and help them get elected!
- Talk About How Volunteering Changed You - College admissions officers warn that simply rattling off the places you have volunteered, without sharing personal anecdotes, can sound insincere.“Get personal,” the authors of the study suggested. “Focus on how you’ve changed, don’t just list what you did, how many hours you volunteered.”For the applicant who has volunteered for a slew of organizations, consider explaining how all of the experiences fall under one larger issue, such as poverty or human rights. While writing your essay, the officers recommend using such “power words,” as “initiative,” “personal change” and “leader.” But, they recommend avoiding “danger words,” which include “showed up,” “forced” and “required.”
Where can you volunteer in Manistee County? There are a couple great places in Manistee County that are always in need of volunteers:
- The Vogue Theater- Address: 383 River St, Manistee, MI 49660. Phone: (231) 508-8005, http://voguetheatremanistee.org/volunteer
- Homeward Bound Animal Shelter - Phone: (231) 723-PETS (7387), http://www.homewardboundmanistee.org/volunteer-opportunities.html
- Habitat For Humanity - Phone: (231) 723-7458, http://www.habitat.org/cd/kit/homepage.aspx?page=manisteemi
There is also a great site that will allow you to look for different volunteer opportunities in Manistee County.
Since the recent shift by the state of Michigan, high school juniors will now be required to take the SAT. Your SAT score will be a big factor in which schools you can get into during your senior year. If you have a high SAT score you can often get into prestigious colleges, or go to a less well known college after they offer you a big scholarship to attend. Your SAT score will also have an impact on what local scholarships are available to you, with many having a minimum SAT score requirement to apply.
Clearly the SAT is a test you should take seriously during your junior year, and also something you may have to reconsider taking if you didn't quite get the score you wanted. So how does one succeed when taking the SAT? Here are a couple of tips from the Princeton Review on how to be successful taking the SAT:
- Look for the wrong answer first - Don't know the right answer? It happens. But if you know which choices are definitely wrong, you will significantly improve your chances of getting the question right. This is called process of elimination. Unlike the old SAT, you will NOT be penalized on the new SAT for any wrong answers. This means you should always guess, even if this means choosing an answer at random. Here’s how it works: Each question has 4 possible answer choices. Eliminate even one possibility, and you have a 1:3 chance of guessing correctly. Let's say there are 9 questions where you eliminate 1 choice and guess among the remaining choices. Statistically, you will guess correctly 3 times and incorrectly 6 times. You just earned 3 points!
- Know Your Personal Order of Difficulty - SAT no longer arranges problems so that easier problems come earlier in the test than the hard ones. So instead, it’s important to identify the questions that YOU find easy or hard. Remember, you’re not scored on how many questions you do. You’re scored on how many questions you answer correctly. So slow down on the questions you personally find easy or medium difficulty so you can pick up the most points. Just make sure you guess on the rest.
- Own your test booklet - Scratch work is
extremely important on the SAT. Don't be embarrassed about it—writing in
your test booklet will help you keep your mind focused.
- Mark up geometry diagrams. Keeping track of your work directly on the page will help you avoid careless mistakes.
- When you use
processof elimination to eliminate a wrong answer, cross it out! Don't leave it there to confuse you if you have to choose between two remaining answer choices.
- When you answer a question but aren't entirely confident in your choice, circle the question or put a big question mark next to it. That way, if you have time to go back at the end of the section, you can find the question easily and quickly.
It is also a great idea to look for different SAT prep materials. One very good website that offers SAT prep is Khan Academy. You do not want to feel like Bart when you get your SAT results, so click on the Khan Academy link here: https://www.khanacademy.org/sat
- College Match and Fit
Deciding on what college is right for you is very important. While it is important that a school offers the degree you want to attain and maybe has some of your friends going there, that does not mean the college is right for you. Nearly 1/3 of all students do not return to the same college or university after their first year. Worse yet, nearly half of all people going for their 4 year degree do not graduate in 6 years. So clearly there is an issue with people finding the right college match and fit for them.
But let us take a quick minute to explain what match and fit mean. Match for a college means that you meet the academic standards set by the school for admission. So if a school required a 3.0 GPA and a 20 on the ACT, and you have a 3.1 GPA and a 22 ACT, that college would be a good match.
Fit for a college is more about what you find important in a school (or what your preferences are for a school you want to go to). If you prefer a small school in a rural area, then a school like Wayne State University would not be a good fit for you because it is located in downtown Detroit, and it has a student population of around 25,000.
It is important for you to consider if the college is a good match and fit for you before attending. So how does one figure out if a school is a good match and fit? Try using one of the links below which will help you narrow down what schools are right for you. Also, speak to your college adviser if you need help figuring out the right college for you.