Rising Seniors: 6 Tips for Maximizing Your Summer Author: Marcia Page

Enjoy your time off and make sure you prepare for your senior year of high school over the summer. If you have the idea you should rest so you can be ready for the new school year, you are right, summer is the perfect time to recharge for what is sure to be a demanding period. But, your other priority should also include a little preparation for your senior year.

The goal is to maximize the summer months and prepare for an action-packed new school year full of life-altering choices and decisions. The good news is that nothing suggested here is overly hard, it just needs to get done. So, keep reading and do these few things to help assure your senior year is one of the best years of your life so far.

  1. Get Organized – There are tons of important decisions in the coming year. Get a calendar, make note of key dates and deadlines. Post your calendar in a prominent place and check it often to stay on task and on schedule. Once you get in this habit, you may find that this approach will work well for you far beyond your senior year.


  1. Prepare for Life After Graduation – What is your plan? Are you going to college or another post-secondary education program? Whatever your choice, you can help insure your success with the prep work you do now. Research the requirements for the school or program of your choice and be sure you have met or have a plan to meet the requirements for admission. This college admissions guide may help you anticipate the year ahead.


  1. Register for Fall SAT/ACT Tests – You may have taken the tests in your junior year, if there is room for improvement in your score sign-up for the test and take it again, this is a great opportunity not to be missed. Over the summer, get registered for the test and put a date on your calendar as soon as possible. Test seats are limited, so sign-up before the all the seats are taken. Test location can also be a factor influencing your test results, this resource may help you pick a location ideal for you.


  1. Get Your Finances in Order (FAFSA & TASFA) – This one is likely a family affair. To apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA), you will need information about your parents’ most recent tax returns, W-2s and other records of money earned. If you earned income and are using your earnings for help pay for school, you must have the same information for your income as well. The state and federal funds are limited, so following the dates and filing your financial aid applications early puts you ahead of the pack and more likely to receive the financial aid you need. This resource on tips to maximize financial aid may help.


  1. Do a Trial Run – There’s nothing wrong with getting a head start on a few of the big things coming in the fall, then as deadlines approach, you will be refining the work you have already begun, versus starting from scratch. A couple of topics and suggestions…Start thinking of who you will ask to write letters of recommendation for you and complete a first draft of your college essays. When the fall comes, you will be happy you did.


  1. Make Sure Your Social Media Tells a Good Story – Have you heard that companies hiring new employees frequently look at their digital profiles for a virtual first impression? Well it is true and the good news is that social media might also help your college prospects, read this article from CNN to learn how.

There are few times in life where the decisions you make are as important as those you will make in the fall as you begin your last year of high school. Enjoy the warm weather AND get a few things done to ensure your senior year success.

Ready for College? So Much To Do, So Little Time!

Welcome back, it’s the beginning of a great new school year and I hope you got your rest, because we have work to do!

By now, you have already started the new school year off with a bang…shopping tax-free weekend for new school clothes and supplies–check. The first days of school was great, getting to renew relationships and see your friends after the summer break – check.  Now you are back in the groove and ready for a successful year of accomplishment–right?

The old adage that you start getting ready to apply for college and financial aid in the middle of your senior year is officially outdated, passé, kaput, in other words…old news. Beginning October 1, 2016 (yes, just a few short weeks from now), you can begin applying for Federal Government financial aid funds. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) program has an entirely new timetable.

For those planning to attend college beginning as early as July 2017, roll up your sleeves and get to work. The rules the Feds have in place are reasonable. They realize that you cannot have your 2016 taxes completed as early as the beginning of the application period so they have rewritten the rules allowing applicants to use 2015 tax year information when applying for financial aid for the 2017-2018 school year, this is very good news. Here is a summary of key dates related to FAFSA grant monies:

If you plan to attend college from: Submit the FAFSA Application dated You can submit the FAFSA form during this time period Use income and tax information from this tax year
July 1, 2017 –

June 30, 2018

2017-2018 October 1, 2016 –

June 30, 2018

July 1, 2018 –

June 30, 2019

2018-2019 October 1, 2017 –

June 30, 2019


Need a Money Mentor to help navigate the financial aid system, check out NextGenVest.com.

In addition to filing for Federal financial aid, you have a few more due dates to plan for and consider; let me spur your memory.

  1. We discussed the FAFSA, but do not forget the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA). Apply for one or the other, but do not miss your chance to receive financial aid from the US government. You deserve your shot at the American dream and the financial assistance to make your dreams reality.
  2. If you have already taken the SAT® or ACT and you are happy with your scores, you are in great shape. If not, schedule your time to retake those exams now. The in school exams for Dallas ISD will be in the spring of 2017. For more information on entrance test dates and fees, click here .
  3. Last, but not least, one of the most important decisions you will make is where you will attend college. Narrow your list of options and begin working on your college applications. If you need help thinking through how to position your achievements and highlight your best characteristics, ask for help. Your parents may be a good resource, but if not go to your Education is Freedom Advisor who is at your campus every day to help you. You have everything to gain.

There are resources, services and tips all around to help you get through this busy period, so do not let your “To Do” list scare you. Get a simple calendar to hang on your wall as an ever-present reminder; mark out key dates and set aside time to work toward the accomplishment your goals.

This really is the beginning of the rest of your life, invest the time now to ensure your own success!