Four items all college bound students should have on their holiday to-do list
Ann Arbor, Mich. — Nov. 18, 2014 — December is typically a month filled with holiday parties, time spent with family and shopping for the perfect gifts. However, financial advisor and certified college planning specialist Timothy C. Parros, of Parros College Planning in Ann Arbor, Mich., a company providing resources in the college admissions process to parents and prospective college students, says there are four college-focused items all college bound students and their parents should add to the holiday to-do list.
1. Search for private sector scholarships.
“Most people don’t realize how much scholarship money is available through online searches,” Parros said. “’Scholarship surfing’ may actually be a better use of a teen’s time than working a minimum wage job. For example, a teen searching online for a few hours may be able to apply for and ultimately nab a $1,500 scholarship, a sum that generally takes a month or more to earn at an after school job.”
2. Get FAFSA paperwork ready.
“Everyone should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application,” Parros said. “Many times parents don’t fill out the FAFSA because they believe their income level is too high or they have saved too much money, so their student won’t qualify for need-based aid. However, there are other forms of monetary assistance available by completing the FAFSA beyond governmental loans.”
Due to the additional monies available, Parros says it is in the best interest of all college bound students and their parents to fill out the FAFSA and to complete the application early.
“The earlier the FAFSA is completed the better, because grants, scholarships, and loans are given out on a first come basis by the college after receiving the FASA information,” Parros said. “FAFSA forms can be completed as early as Jan. 1 of the student’s senior year and contrary to popular belief, taxes do not have to be completed to fill out the FAFSA form.”
3. Update resume to get ready for college.
“Students should not wait until the last minute to update or create their resume,” Parros said. “Students often put off working on their resume because it can be time consuming. However, the longer you procrastinate, the harder it is to remember specific projects and responsibilities that merit inclusion, the time frame of various leadership positions held and other important factors.”
4. Volunteer over winter break.
“Volunteerism continues to be a critical differentiator in the college admission process,” Parros said. “Students who adopt volunteer service as a way of life early on are more likely to take on leadership roles in a volunteer organization or charitable event throughout their school and college years.”
Parros says local soup kitchens, shelters and other non-profits are always looking for help and may need additional support for special holiday projects.
“Use the holiday break to make a difference and gain additional volunteer hours,” Parros said.