7 tips for navigating the college application journey


(BPT) - With many moving parts and high stakes involved, it’s essential to approach college applications with a well-thought-out plan. From planning to budgeting to submitting your application, here are seven tips for navigating the typical college application process.

  1. Create a timeline for your college application. The college application journey requires meticulous planning and ample time for execution. When you begin applying, create a timeline with clear deadlines. This way, you’ll know when you need to finish each step and won’t get overwhelmed by the number of tasks ahead.
  2. Identify key milestones related to your applications. Some schools offer Early Decision or Early Action options, with different deadlines from the standard decision deadline. Set personal deadlines too for gathering recommendations, crafting your essays and submitting your transcripts. Leave room for hiccups too.
  3. Research your schools. Not all colleges are a perfect fit. That’s why it’s important to find a school that aligns with your academic, personal and career goals. Dive into what makes each institution unique and how it may line up with your values and interests. Explore their academic programs, extracurricular offerings, campus culture and location.
  4. Figure out your financial aid options. Note the cost of tuition as well as things like room and board, books and program fees. Look into whether the school offers scholarships, grants, financial aid or work-study opportunities. If you need additional funds to cover costs that federal student loans, scholarships and grants don’t cover, consider a private student loan from your trusted bank or credit union. Lenders like Navy Federal Credit Union, offer private student loans for a semester or the entire academic year up to the school-certified cost of attendance.
  5. Build a budget for your college applications. In most cases, there are costs involved, including school application fees, fees to send test scores and fees to send high school transcripts. Students and parents should identify a savings goal and set money aside just for the college application process. If you’re a low-income student, you may get waivers for both SAT/ACT testing and college applications. Military members and Veterans may also be eligible for application fee waivers. Ask your high school guidance counselor or college’s financial aid department if these waivers apply to you.
  6. Prepare your application to help you stand out. Colleges will look at your test scores and GPA, but they also want to know more about who you are as a student and professional. Extra application requirements, such as resumes and essays, showcase your skills and what makes you unique. Make sure you prepare for these important components of your college applications. This can also include passion projects, academic achievements and honors.
  7. Submit your application to the school. As your deadlines approach, double-check your applications for accuracy and ensure you have all the materials you need. For example, create a checklist that covers all your bases, such as proofreading your application, submitting test scores and paying any application fees. Once completed, submit your applications with confidence. Take pride in knowing you’ve put your best foot forward.

The college application process is an adventure, but with careful planning, you’ll find the perfect school that fits your goals for the future.

Navy Federal Credit Union is federally insured by NCUA.