Road Map for February: Seniors

Now that most application deadlines are out of the way, I hope you’re getting a chance to catch your breath.  As acceptances and financial aid offers continue to come in, DC students should complete the DC TAG application now if there are any eligible schools on your list. These are generally public universities, HBCUs and colleges in and near the District. Click here for more information about participating colleges and universities.  Most states have their own programs as well for students who attend school in-state; click here for information on Virginia’s programs and here for Maryland’s.

If there’s a gap between what you’re able to pay and what the school is expecting from  you, you may want to appeal your award.  The best chance for a successful appeal is one where there’s been a change in circumstances such as a job loss, or some information that was not reflected on your FAFSA and CSS Profile.  This article has more.  This is also a time to apply for scholarships and consider whether and how much you might borrow to close any financial aid gap.  This calculator can help you determine how much student loan debt you can take on without overextending.  If you’re planning a gap year you might also consider enrolling in an AmeriCorps program like the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) or the Student Conservation Association, which will provide a living allowance while you’re serving and an education award at the end of your term.

Speaking of gap years, it’s Gap Year Exploration Month and it’s time to start making your plans.  Your “year on” could include some combination of paid work, an internship, domestic or international travel, volunteering and/or academics. You’ll need to decide what to do and where to go, develop your budget and itinerary, register for programs and make travel and living arrangements.  Students who enter this contest by March 1 could win a $500 gap year scholarship; see details here. Do you need guidance to create your plan? The gap year experts at Claster Educational Services can help you identify your goals, find programs, and fit your gap experience into your college plan.  Contact us for a consultation.

Finally, in addition to this year’s strain of flu and the coronavirus, the Class of 2020 is at risk for something far more prevalent: senioritis.  Once your college applications are submitted and the first acceptances trickle in, some of the pressure is off.  While you’re waiting for the rest of your offers and weighing your options, your school counselor is sending your midyear report to your colleges.  There will be a final report as well, so make sure it reflects the same level of academic work you’ve been doing up until now.  And while you should enjoy the rest of your senior year, maintain good judgment.  While it’s not common, any acceptance you receive is contingent on you finishing high school with a similar track record to the one that got you admitted.  It’s not common, but colleges can and occasionally do revoke admission if an academic or disciplinary problem occurs or comes to light after an offer has been made.