College Prep for Underclassmen

Planning early can be the key to success when applying to and paying for college.  On January 22nd, Anne Fuller, the College and Career Advisor for Las Lomas, and Tim Lenahan, a College Financial Counselor, held a presentation for 9th and 10th graders and their families in the Las Lomas library.  The presentation, “Going to College 101”, offered both academic and financial advice to help students prepare for college.

“My job is to help students, be a resource, and figure out what school is the best fit for them.”  said Ms. Fuller. “Not only do I do that, I do career presentations. Various companies come in on Fridays and give presentations.  I help students one-on-one with whatever they need.”

Ms. Fuller also offered her own advice for college.  For example, she talked about Naviance, the website that facilitates college application.  Other topics mentioned were extra-curricular activities to do. “Volunteer activities in the summer or during the year.  Being an officer — being involved in a club. Also, work experience is always good. You want to look at your passions. What are you interested in?  You don’t want to do things that you’re not interested in. What I tell students is to start your story your Freshman year. Start to figure out what you want to do.  You’re telling your story before your senior year begins…”

Ms. Fuller has created a high school roadmap leading to college.  The roadmap goes over each year of high school and is available in the “College and Career” section of the school website.  For freshman year, the roadmap advises to join a club, get good grades, and form relationships with your teachers. For sophomore year, take the PSAT, use Naviance, and take the diagnostic ACT/SAT.  For junior year, start to tour colleges, ask teachers for letters of recommendation, and start college application in the summer. For senior year, take the ACT/SAT tests, attend Financial Aid Workshop, apply to DVC, and keep your grades up.  “Generally you should have at least five AP classes on your transcript by the time you graduate,” added Ms. Fuller. “It all depends, though. You don’t want to add so many that you’re stressed out. That’s not the goal… Sometimes, you add two your junior year and then three your senior year.  Sometimes you add one your sophomore year. It all depends on what math level you’re in.”

Lenahan offers services including helping families prepare affordable college budgets, at-home and on-phone financial aid, and personal college and scholarship recommendations.

During Lenahan’s section of the presentation, he presented what families need to do and financial aid terms to know.  He explained the difference between Need-based Aid and Merit Aid. Merit Aid is awarded based on academics or activities.  And depending on a family’s financial status, some students qualify for Need-based Aid. Lenahan suggested that students and their families must be realistic with what they can afford.  Moreover, the biggest factor of income is the major and not the college name.

While preparing for and applying to college can be overwhelming, there are people who can help you.  And, oftentimes, little things do make a difference. As Ms. Fuller added, “Have fun, get good grades, form relationships with your teachers, join a club — pursue what you’re naturally interested in.”

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