PREPARING FOR COLLEGE

Preparing for college is always an exciting but stressful experience whether you’re an incoming freshman or a returning college student. What steps do you need to take in order to be accepted into the college of your choice? Take a look at the resources we’ve put together below and you will be one step closer, if not more, to receiving your acceptance letter!

Let’s begin!

FINDING THE RIGHT COLLEGE

Finding the right college is not only about finding the institution that you want to study at, it’s about finding your home away from home for the next four to five years.  While you may have in mind what your dream university is, it’s important for you to cast a wide net and apply to different colleges and universities. There are different types of colleges and universities that caters to all types of students. These types of institutions also come with various Costs of Attendance, Degree Types, Support Services, and Campus Housing. The most common types of colleges and universities that Native students look at are:

1. Tribal Colleges and Universities
2. Community Colleges
3. Regional Universities
4. State Universities
5. Private Universities
6. Ivy League Institutions

Each of these types of institutions offer unique educational experiences.  Before applying explore your options and determine what is the best fit for you. Take into consideration:

• How far away from home the institution is?
• How much will it cost to attend that institution? (How much will you and your family be responsible for paying or how much financial aid need will you need to apply for?)
• Do they have a Native community and Native student support services?
• Do they have the majors that you are interested in?
• Does the institution have good retention, graduation, and job placement rates?
• Do they have campus housing and if so what type?
• Do you see yourself at that institution?

STANDARDIZED TESTS

As a first-time college student, you may find yourself preparing to take the ACT or SAT as part of your college application. Here are some tips to help you prepare and dominate your test.

Test Prep Tips
1.
 Test ahead of time! Don’t wait until the last minute before applications are due. 
2. Take practice tests. This will help familiarize you with the content of your test.
3. Consider taking a test preparation course.
4. Study! Study! Study! 
5. Seek out test fee waivers from the following resources: 

• TRiO Programs (Upward Bound, Talent search, GEAR UP)
• JOM Programs
• Tribal Education departments
• Tribal Scholarship office
• School guidance counselor 

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

A strong recommendation can go a long way! A common request from college admissions is a letter of recommendation.  This letter is traditionally written by a trusted source of your choosing and gives the reader an idea of the type of person you are.  When looking for someone to write a letter of recommendation for you, consider a teacher, mentor, coach, or someone involved in your chosen field of study that will write a positive recommendation. Remember, the person writing your letter of recommendation should be familiar with your work ethic, your academic achievements, your community service, your leadership roles, and your character.

Here are a few important things to remember when asking for a letter of recommendation:
1. Choose someone who can speak positively about your strengths and character.
2. Give your writer enough time to write and revise before your application is due.
3. Provide supporting information to your writer to help them organize their letter. (Transcripts, resume, list of community service)
4. Set up a meeting with your recommender to go over scholarship criteria and discuss any questions they may have.
5. Check to see how many letters of recommendation your application requires.  You may need to submit more than one letter.
6. Check-in with your recommender as the deadline approaches.  
7. Make sure you stay in communication with your recommender.

DID YOU KNOW?
You have the right to review ANY letter of recommendation before it is sent.

PERSONAL STATEMENT

You are your own advocate when writing your personal statement. This statement should give the reader context as to who YOU are.  Colleges commonly ask for a personal statement to learn about you, the individual.  They want to know what has motivated you to pursue higher education and why you want to attend their school.  Before you start writing your life story, think about the intention of your personal statement.  

Here are some tips for writing a strong personal statement
1.
 Determine the intention of your personal statement. What do you want to share about yourself and why?
2. Write your statement early.  Give yourself and others plenty of time to read, edit, and revise your statement before it’s due.  Make sure that eyes, other than your own, review your letter AT LEAST once.
3. Be clear and concise.  Your statement should tell a clear story without getting off-topic. Ask someone you trust for feedback to make sure you’re answering the questions.
4. Don’t be afraid to use your own voice when writing. Share your personality with your reader.

APPLYING FOR FINANCIAL AID

The first step in applying for financial aid is completing the FAFSA.  NEXT, is to APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS!  There is an ocean of scholarship opportunities out there for every field of study however, this does not mean you should put off applying for scholarships until the last minute.  Different scholarships have various requirements in order to apply and can be extremely competitive. Understanding your cost of attendance (COA) is very important to know what you and your family are responsible for, or how much outside funding you need to find. Understanding how much money you will need in order to attend the college of your choice is very important.  We will go further into your COA in the Affording College section of the student resources.

Important Reminders
1.
 Fill out your FAFSA as soon as you are able.  
2. APPLY for scholarships. See the opportunities AIGC has to offer HERE.
3. Prepare all the necessary documents before applying.
4. ASK FOR HELP if you’re not sure what steps to take.

DID YOU KNOW?
You can apply for the FAFSA as early as OCTOBER 1st?

Wells Fargo

Student Resources Partner