Advice From Admissions: Student Checklist –

Is there a checklist that students should follow before even beginning their degree search?

Selecting a school is an important decision and one that is not to be taken lightly, as the school you choose will significantly affect your path in life. Be sure to prioritize what’s important to you in a school, for example: job placement rates, flexible schedules, transferrable credits, price, etc. Compare several schools, and once you have found the school that seems to be the best fit for you, be sure to partner with your admissions representative, and they will walk you through the admissions process.

Many schools require an application or enrollment fee of some sort, ranging anywhere from $25 to $400 just to apply to the school, while some schools have a free application. Don’t let an expensive application/enrollment fee deter you from the school of your choice, as many schools view this fee as a way to gauge your commitment level to attending their school. Just because you’ve paid a fee and submitted your application, doesn’t mean that you’re done.

If your new school is eligible for federal financial aid, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). When applying for the FAFSA for the 2012-13 school year, you will need financial information from 2011. You may need to refer to the following documents to fill out the FAFSA properly:

  • Social Security card
  • Driver’s license (if any)
  • 2011 W-2 forms and other records of money earned
  • Your (and if married, your spouse’s) 2011 Federal Income Tax Return
  • Your parents’ 2011 Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student)
  • 2011 untaxed income records
  • Current bank statements
  • Your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records
  • Alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)

You will be required to enter your school’s Federal School Code to complete your FAFSA. Simply ask your admissions representative or financial aid representative for the code, or you can perform a School Code Search on FAFSA’s website.

If you have previously attended college, get your prior college transcripts to see if any of your previous courses will transfer to your new school. If you’re successful in getting credits transferred, you will save money and graduate sooner. Contact your former college(s) Registrar’s office to inquire about the transcript request process. Do not delay this process, as processing times can sometimes take several weeks. Many schools now require that you fill out a transcript request form and submit a small fee. If you believe that a class you’ve taken at a former school should have been transferred, and was not, many schools allow you to appeal their decision and perform another review of your transcripts.

There are various admissions processes and procedures that will vary from school to school. For example, some schools will require that you submit an essay to get accepted, while others may require you to take a placement assessment. Be sure to consult with your admissions representative to walk you through your new school’s admissions process step-by-step.

Once you have completed the admissions process and been accepted, it’s time to register for your classes. You will most likely be working with another representative or counselor to help you register for the correct classes.

After registration, you may be asked to attend an orientation. Although it may sound boring and/or trivial, attend your orientation, as you will receive valuable information that will make the transition to a new school far easier.

Chris Lipari has experience as a career advisor, helping everyone from students to C-level executives construct their resumes, prepare for job interviews, and find careers. He has spent the last 12 years as an admissions director for various colleges and universities. Lipari is also the creator of Mach Interview, a system designed to help schools increase job placement rates.