What Seniors in High School Must Do in January

January is the start of a New Year and a new semester.

Kathryn Knight Randolph
December 28, 2021

Start the year (and the semester) off right with our high school senior college checklist.

January is the start of a New Year and a new semester, which means you have the unique advantage of a fresh start in more than one way! How cool is that? Make sure you utilize this clean slate because it's not often that we're given such chances in life. Here's a college checklist to follow with suggestions of ways you can start off January on a great note.

Fill Out & Submit Your FAFSA
The FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an important component of your college search and became available on October 1, 2021. It’s important to fill it out as soon as it becomes available because it not only determines whether or not you qualify for federal aid, but also for certain types of state financial aid. Bonus: Your parents can use their 2020 tax income returns. The sooner you fill out your FAFSA the better chances at earning state aid, before funds become limited. Learn more about filling out the FAFSA and, remember, it’s always free to fill out – so if you’re being charged to fill out the form, it’s not legitimate. The only correct FAFSA website to access the FAFSA is studentaid.gov.

Register for February Standardized Tests, If Necessary
Whether you feel prepared or not, over preparing is never a problem. Check out Fastweb’s test prep section for additional tips and tricks that may give you an added advantage on your test day. Also, check with the colleges and universities which you would send test scores to. Are they even considering test scores in their admissions decisions right now? Or have they gone test optional? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities are either weighing test scores less or not at all. Learn more here.

Send Your First Semester Transcripts to Colleges You’ve Applied To
You won’t physically be sending these – but you should ask your counselor or guidance office to do so. Then, at the end of your second semester, you will ask your counselor or guidance office to send your second semester transcripts as well. It’s always a good idea to check in after a week or so to ensure that they’ve been sent, just because the office will have a lot of student requests. You want to make sure your request doesn’t fall through the cracks!

Focus on Your Second Semester Classes
Keep in mind that no matter how your first semester went, second semester is a fresh start. Colleges love to see continual improvement; and, if your grades pick up second semester, your chances of getting off a wait list or deferral list are that much better. At the same time, if your grades take a drastic turn for the worse during second semester, colleges can actually rescind their admission decision. So whether or not you feel like putting in the work, you can't shrug off your homework assignments, writing papers and studying for big exams. Treat this semester like you would any other.

Avoid Senioritis
Speaking of shrugging off your work...you may have heard about Senioritis and laughed it off – but it’s the real deal. It causes a lack of motivation, general laziness and lethargy. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to become a victim of senioritis – it will impact your chances of getting into the college of your dreams! Just see the above. You will find that at the end of the semester, your teachers will generally be looser with assignments and tests. They are well aware that you have quite a bit going on right now. But while class is clipping along at its regular speed, make sure you are, too.

Apply for Scholarships
As always, continue to apply to scholarships for high school seniors that you qualify for in your down time. Submitting scholarship applications doesn’t take as long as you may think and has a huge pay off! Check out these 2022 scholarships. This should be a constant on your to do list – just make sure you actually submit your scholarship applications. College is right around the corner and you can use all of the financial assistance available. Remember, the more applications you submit, the better your chances of winning a scholarship.