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7 Tips to Prepare for College Decision Day

After four years of hard work in high school, the college acceptance letters begin to roll in. If a student is lucky enough to receive multiple acceptance offers from colleges, then they have some big decisions to make.

Chances are, they will make that decision by May 1st—aka, College Decision Day. The first of May is the day most colleges require prospective students to accept their offer if they plan to attend their school in the fall.

Before the big decision day arrives, students and their families will generally want to prepare together. This is an important decision to make and there are a lot of important factors to consider. Keep reading for seven tips that could help students prepare for college decision day.

1. Get Organized

The college application and acceptance process can be overwhelming. If a student has multiple offers to choose from, they may find they have a lot of paperwork and important deadlines on their hands. Corralling the following paperwork and deadlines should make the process easier and ensure no important details are overlooked:

Deadlines

•   Acceptance deadline (not all schools play by the May 1st rule)
•   FAFSA®, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, deadline (a key step in receiving financial aid)
•   Housing deadline

Paperwork

•   Acceptance letter
•   Financial aid offers
•   Copies of important submitted documentation like the FAFSA®

Keeping a separate folder, either physical or digital, for each school a student has been accepted to can be a helpful way to stay on top of any important paperwork. Marking key dates on the calendar as soon as the applicant comes across them can aid in relieving unnecessary confusion too.

2. Compare Financial Aid Offers

It’s no secret that college can get pretty darn expensive. Before officially deciding which college to attend, it’s important to compare any financial aid offers. Schools may have different policies and opportunities regarding financial aid such as scholarship and grants, so it’s worth comparing and contrasting any offers to see which school will be the most affordable. Money may not be the deciding factor for a student, but many will likely take the cost of attendance into consideration.

Once accepted to a college, the student can generally expect to receive a financial aid award letter that outlines what grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study options will be available to them. This can help families calculate the cost of attendance as well as help them understand what their financing options are.

This letter will only account for the first year of enrollment, so it can be worthwhile to request information from each school about how much tuition and fee prices have risen over the past few years.

3. Reserving Spots

To reserve a student’s spot at the college they’ve chosen to accept, they will generally need to pay an enrollment deposit fee. This fee is typically non-refundable, but guarantees the student has a spot at the school. The fee can vary in price from $100 to $1,000, depending on the school. Once school begins, this deposit is applied to the tuition bill or costs relating to housing, orientation, or school fees.

Students who are unable to afford the enrollment deposit, can apply for a waiver. The student can complete a form from The National Association for College Admission Counseling and submit it to their college admissions office explaining their unique circumstances and can inquire about any school-specific programs or policies that may be able to help.

Students who are struggling to make a decision about which college to attend may be tempted to put down multiple deposits to buy themselves some extra time to make a decision. This practice is referred to as “double depositing” and is generally frowned on and considered unethical as it can negatively affect the schools and students who have been waitlisted and are hoping a spot will open up at the college they are waitlisted at.

4. Mull Over the Waitlist

Making a decision about which college to attend can be tricky, especially if the student has been accepted to multiple schools that they are interested in attending. This decision can be even more challenging to make if a student is waiting to hear back from a dream college or has been waitlisted at one of their top picks.

If a student is still waitlisted at their dream school on National Decision Day, they generally will accept another choice, in the event that they do not make it off the waitlist at another school. Depending on the applicant and the school, getting off the waitlist and into the school can be competitive.

Even if a student makes it off the waitlist, that school may not be worth waiting for. Students who are accepted after being waitlisted may find that they receive less financial assistance in the form of grants or financial aid by the time they are admitted, as being waitlisted can put them to the back of the line for financial assistance.

5. When Decision Day Arrives

Ideally, making a final decision about which college to attend can happen before the national decision day. Waiting until the last minute offers very little wiggle room if something goes wrong with the acceptance process (say a computer glitch or busy phone lines).

That being said, if a student has not accepted their first choice college by May 1st or the specific acceptance dates of each college they received offers from, that should be their top priority. If they have already accepted a college offer, May 1st is a good day to double and triple check that they are officially enrolled. Better safe than sorry!

Next, rejecting the colleges the student won’t be accepting is another step to take. By not accepting the offer, the student will lose their spot, but the sooner they reject an offer, the sooner the college may be able to offer their spot to another student on the waitlist.

6. If a Student Misses the Deadline

Of course, missing the college decision deadline is not ideal and in many scenarios, missing this deadline can eliminate the student’s option of attending the school they are hoping to accept.

If a student misses the deadline, all hope is not lost. Some schools struggle to hit their enrollment targets by May 1st. Plus, many schools lose students during the summer due to “summer melt”. Summer melt occurs when an accepted college student does not show up in the fall. Because of this, some schools may have a bit of secret wiggle room in their acceptance policy.

Students who missed the acceptance deadline may want to contact the college’s admissions office as soon as possible to explain their particular situation, especially if there are unique circumstances that led them to missing the deadline. Start by calling the admissions office and follow up on the conversation with an email so that there is an official correspondence that can be tracked. Make sure to be respectful during this process as this is a big favor to ask. Trying won’t cause any harm and this last ditch effort may just pay off.

While most schools have a May 1st acceptance deadline, some schools are on different schedules. This is why it’s important for students to double check the deadlines for any schools they’ve been accepted to in case one varies. No one wants their dream school to slip through their fingers because they mixed up a deadline.

7. Financing a College Education

If paying for college is a concern, which it is for many families, there are options for easing the burden of paying for a pricey college education.

Once students have accepted a college offer and reviewed their financial aid package, they generally have a decent idea of how much they will need to borrow to fund their education. This is where student loans can come in handy. There are two types of student loans available: federal and private.

Federal student loans

This type of student loan is provided by the United States government. This means that federal student loans have terms and conditions that are legally set by the United States government. Private lenders do not have to offer the same terms, such as fixed interest rates and income-driven replacement plans, that students can get from federal student loans.

Private student loans

On the other hand, private student loans come from private lenders such as banks, credit unions, online lenders, and select state-based or state-affiliated organizations. The private lender sets the terms and conditions, which are generally based on borrower criteria like credit history. Typically private loans are more expensive than federal loans.

SoFi offers private student loans with an entirely digital application process. Potential borrowers can choose between a variable or fixed interest rate and have the option to add a cosigner, such as a parent, to the loan.

There are no fees associated with SoFi private student loans, so students will never have to worry about origination, late, and insufficient fund fees sneaking up on them.

SoFi student loans can cover a student’s entire cost of education, so students and their families can focus on what’s most important—having a fun, stimulating, and rewarding college experience.

Learn more about SoFi’s flexible repayment plans and application process for private student loans.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change. SoFi Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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3 Benefits of Taking AP Classes in High School

High school is the first time many young students are able to make choices around their education. What language do they want to learn? What sport do they want to play? Would they rather learn to cook or take intro to psychology as their elective?

Choices can be fun, but they can also be overwhelming, especially when a teenager is trying to make the best choices to prepare for college.

Many students consider taking AP classes in high school, and for good reason. So let’s take a look at what AP classes are, what the benefits of taking them are, and how they can affect a student’s college experience.

What are AP Classes?

AP stands for “advanced placement” and AP classes prepare students for college, by giving them college-level work during high school. Their dedication is awarded accordingly, as they can earn college credit and placement by taking corresponding AP exams.

One of the primary motivators for enrolling in AP classes is they prepare students to take and pass AP exams. Students who earn qualifying AP scores on these exams can receive credits from most colleges and universities in the United States.

Depending on their high school’s offerings, students can enroll in one or more of the 38 AP classes that cover a variety of subject matters such as arts, languages, sciences, mathematics, and literature.

In order to enroll in an AP class, there may be prerequisite classes that students must take first. It’s recommended that even if students meet the required qualifications in order to take an AP class, that they consider carefully if they are prepared to take a college level course.

The three main benefits of taking AP classes in high school relate to saving money, becoming a more competitive college applicant, and preparing for success in college.

Benefit #1: Saving Money on College Tuition

AP classes will take up a lot of a student’s time in high school but can also save time, and money, down the line in college. When a student receives a high score on an AP exam, the college they attend in the future may give the student credit that cancels out the need to take a similar college class.

Some schools may offer advanced placement instead, which allows the student to effectively test out of introductory level courses in the specific subject, but may not be counted toward credit.

Policies vary by school, but the more AP exams a student passes, the more credits they may be able to earn. These credits could allow college students to skip classes which could save them a semester of attending an introductory English literature or Spanish class. Add up enough of these credits and students can shave off an entire semester or more of their time spent at college.

Note that the policy on AP scores will vary from school to school, and not all schools offer credit for AP classes. Some schools may require a four or five on the AP exam in order to qualify for credit, while others may accept a three.

Students can use AP credits to their financial advantage in two ways. They can either graduate early which will save money on tuition, fees, and living expenses. Or, they can take lighter course loads across a four year period and can make time to take a part-time job or could add a second major or minor.

At the very least, students could avoid paying for textbooks or lab fees in classes that they have already mastered the subject matter.

Benefit #2: Making Your College Application More Competitive

When students apply for college, they work hard to put their best foot forward and to prove that they will thrive once they land on campus in the fall. College admissions departments carefully comb through transcripts, test scores, and personal essays to see if students will not only be a good fit at their school, but to ensure the student has every chance of succeeding once they enroll.

This is one of the reasons AP classes can be beneficial to high school students. When a student thrives in an AP class, they are essentially thriving in a college class. Before an AP student arrives at college, they will clearly understand what will likely be expected of them, how rigorous the course work can be, and what steps they need to take to succeed academically.

Alongside proving preparation, AP students could receive a bit of a grade point average (GPA) boost if they earn good grades. Some high schools, but not all, will give more weight to AP grades than normal ones. For example, receiving a B in an AP class may provide as many points towards their GPA as if they earned an A in the non-AP version of the class.

Benefit #3: Prepare For College Better

Taking an AP course is akin to taking an actual college course, which can help students get a taste for college. If structured properly, an AP course should give high school students a preview of what skills they need to succeed in a college class and what the workload might look like.

Learning to manage time properly, developing strong research and analytic skills, and covering material more quickly in an AP class can be helpful preparation for the rigors of college life.

Taking AP classes can also help students identify their interests and passions which may lead them to the right college. Having a preview of what it would be like to study French, Psychology, or Chemistry in college can help guide students during the application process towards schools that have strong programs in their chosen area of interest.

College Financing Options

When it comes to paying for college, there are a lot of different options available to students. Scholarships, grants, and federal financial aid are all options to help a student pay for college.

But, figuring out what you qualify for and how to apply can be overwhelming. That’s why SoFi teamed up with Edmit to offer a tool that can help students estimate financial aid awards, compare the cost of attendance at different schools, and can help students learn more about their merit aid and scholarship options.

For students and parents that need extra help covering the cost of attending college, student loans are a potential option. There are two types of student loans, federal and private.

With federal loans, when it comes time to pay back the loan, there is a fixed interest rate which can make it easier to predict payments post-graduation. If you take out a subsidized federal loan, the government may pay the interest on those loans while the student is in school.

Private loans may have a fixed interest rate, or a variable interest rate which means payments may rise over time. These types of loans often have higher interest rates than federal loans. SoFi, for example, offers no-fee private student loans that can help students pay for the cost of higher education.

Students can complete the application online to see if they pre-qualify and what rates they may be eligible for in a matter of minutes. SoFi offers flexible repayment plans which can help borrowers find the right repayment option for them.

Learn more about how to pay for college with Private Student Loans from SoFi.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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5 Tips if You Are Nervous About College

Big life changes can mean a lot of excitement and also a lot of nervousness. It’s normal to feel both happy and anxious about starting college. Students should know that they’re not alone in these feelings, in 2018, the American College Health Associate found that 63% of college students felt anxiety in the past year. They also found that the biggest increase in feelings of anxiety were during the first year of college. It’s a new experience and there can be a lot of pressure involved. It may be the first time that many students leave home and are surrounded by new people.

So, not only is feeling nervous about college normal, it’s also manageable. For high school students still getting ready for college, here are 5 tips that may help ease the nerves.

Making a List and Packing Early

To lessen anxiety, preparation is key! For students that are planning to live on campus, packing can feel like a monumental task. It’s already stressful to imagine living away from home, and on top of that students don’t want to forget anything important.

One of the best ways to help ensure a smooth transition is to make a list early and start packing ahead of time. When dealing with a large task, it helps to break it down into smaller pieces that are easier to tackle.

For example, students who are nervous for college could break up their packing list into sections like clothing, school supplies, and living essentials. Even just taking the small step of making the lists could ease some of the worries.

Students that are expecting to move to college in August or September may want to start making their list at the beginning of summer. This gives them plenty of time to research what they need and order anything they don’t have.

Some schools will provide guidelines for packing and lists of items that are prohibited on campus, so it can be worth checking the website or contacting residential life. Once students know what they’ll need to purchase, they can go through the items they already have and make a list of which of these are coming with them, and which items are staying behind with mom and dad.

There will be some items that students can’t pack early, it would be inconvenient to have to get the toothbrush out of the suitcase every morning, but there are still plenty of things they can begin packing a few weeks in advance.

Depending on the weather where students are moving to, they can start by packing the clothing they know they won’t need to wear for the next few weeks. If it’s currently warm, start packing up those winter clothes!

This is one task that high school students not ready for college can tackle early on to build some confidence and feelings of preparedness.

Learn About Independent Living

Students who are planning to go away for college should spend time before they go learning what they can about living independently. This can cover a wide range of tasks, such as learning how to cook, how to make a doctor’s appointment, and how to use public transportation. It could help students to work with their parents to make a list of tasks that the students need to get familiar with.

Some ways to get ready for college and living on their own can include:

•   Gathering a list of important phone numbers and addresses and entering them into their phones. (Doctors office, school counselor, roommate, etc.)
•   Making a few simple meals so they feel confident in the kitchen.
•   Practicing household chores like doing laundry and dishes if they don’t already.

If students are nervous about finding their way around campus, it may be helpful to explore the campus before classes start and find their classes.

For students who will be attending an online school, they will need to develop extra self-discipline and get familiar with online programs like Zoom, if they’re not already. Doing this ahead of time could help minimize the stress of trying to log on the first time.

Developing Coping Skills

Students who are feeling nervous or anxious about beginning college can take the time before classes start to develop coping skills that will help them manage those feelings. Setting up a self-care routine that includes taking care of physical and mental health can help students manage the stress of college more easily.

Parents can also get involved in this process by sharing the coping skills that work for them and providing emotional support. Teens who know their parents are supportive are more likely to open up and actually use that support.

Knowing that their parents had similar struggles will help students to feel less alone as well. If parents have coping skills that they use, this could be a good time to educate their children on those and encourage them to practice using them before school starts.

Asking Questions

Sometimes, not knowing what to expect can contribute to feelings of anxiety, but this can be minimized by asking questions. One way that students can potentially combat this fear is by asking questions. Students who have family members that went to college or are currently in college, may want to set aside time to chat with them about their experiences.

High school guidance counselors can also be helpful in preparing students for college and easing their nerves.

There may also be an opportunity to go on a campus tour and ask questions there. High school students nervous about college may also benefit from attending their college’s orientation, so they show up on their first week prepared. Asking questions from others who’ve been to college will take away some of the scary mystery of the experience and may increase feelings of preparedness for high schoolers.

Focusing on the Positives

Is college going to be tough? Of course! The classes will be more intense than high school level classes, and there will certainly be an adjustment period. In addition to these things though, there are also a lot of positives. College will give students opportunities to meet new people, learn about themselves, and have fun!

Some students may be overwhelmed at first at the prospect of making friends on a large campus, but there are a lot of clubs and organizations that students can join. Getting involved in extracurricular activities can help students to form friendships and build a support system that may make their college experience more positive.

It may be a challenging four years, with adjusting to adult life and tackling finals every semester, but college can also be fun. High schoolers can help ease their nerves by embracing this aspect of college as well. Having a more realistic and blanched view of the experience may help them enter into it with less apprehension.

Paying For College

Another source of anxiety when it comes to preparing for college is the finances. College can be expensive, and figuring out how to pay for tuition, books, and living expenses is a confusing process. There are multiple options that students can utilize to help cover the cost of their education though.

The FAFSA®, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, allows students to apply for federal student aid. This aid can come in the form of grants or federal student loans. Grants from the government usually do not need to be repaid, whereas loans do need to be repaid.

Students who are eligible take out federal grants and loans may benefit from doing so before looking into private student loans. Federal loans come with certain benefits, such as deferment, that private loans do not.

If students are not eligible for federal aid or the aid isn’t enough to cover their costs, applying for scholarships is another option. Scholarships are widely available and the eligibility criteria varies for each scholarship. Some scholarships are need-based whereas some are merit-based. There are usually many scholarships available, offered from a wide variety of sources such as schools, private corporations, community organizations, religious groups, and more.

Taking out private student loans is another option for helping to fund a college education. The eligibility for private loans will usually depend on a students credit history and income. When considering private student loans, students should remember that each institution will have its own terms for the loans.

It’s recommended to research and compare before choosing an institution. Learning about student loans can be really confusing but SoFi has information made just for high schoolers, so they can start preparing early on.

Whether it’s anxiety about finals, making friends, or paying for tuition, students should keep in mind that these feelings are both normal and manageable. College can be a great life experience as long as students prepare well and ask for help when they need it.

High school students who are ready to start their research can look into a private student loan with SoFi.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change. SoFi Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPS20081

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Do Your SAT Scores Really Matter for College?

During the 2018-2019 school year, almost 50 accredited universities and colleges announced plans to drop the SAT requirement for admissions. All in all, over 1,000 high-education institutions in the US have dropped the requirement. But, according to CollegeBoard, 2.2 million students took the SATs in 2020.

The SAT might be dropping as a requirement for admissions consideration, but the number has an impact beyond just getting into a school. Read on to learn how SAT requirements are changing, but why the score is still as important as ever.

How SAT Requirements Are Changing

The number of colleges dropping SAT scores from admission consideration is growing. However, policies change from school to school and from admission year to admission year, so students might want to double and triple-check before assuming that their dream school doesn’t want to see their standardized test score.

While some schools no longer consider their applicants’ SAT scores at all, others are making it easier to put your best foot forward with scores. Many colleges and universities, including the common application, now allow applicants to submit their SAT superscore.

An SAT superscore is an applicant’s highest Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores added together. It’s the highest section scores, instead of the overall score of one test.

For some, this takes off some of the pressure of standardized testing. It means if a student feels off on one section, they can use a higher score from a previous test to get their best score possible.

Another big change around schools accepting SAT scores actually revolves around the SAT subject tests. Once more commonly required by competitive universities, the SAT subject tests are more optional than they once were.

Some schools are moving toward a more flexible policy on subject tests, while others, including MIT, are omitting the requirement completely.

However, submitting subject tests is still “strongly encouraged” by schools like Penn, Georgetown, Princeton, and others. Applicants should consider reading each school’s requirements thoroughly to ensure they’re submitting their most complete application. The more information a student provides in an application, the more likely the admissions board can get a full picture of them.

If an applicant feels particularly strong in a few subjects, they might be able to use that to their advantage. Some schools now accept SAT subject tests instead of an SAT score. These flexible test guidelines, used at Colorado College in addition to other schools, allow students to submit AP test scores, SAT subject test scores, and IB scores instead of the traditional SAT or ACT scores.

Requirements around submitting SAT scores are not as strict as they once were. Students have the option of picking and choosing their best section scores to create a superscore, or they might even be able to take the SAT subject tests in lieu of the SATs. What’s more, some schools no longer require standardized testing at all to be considered.

These policies could help give students who don’t perform as well in standardized testing a leg up in the application process, but all applicants should consider reading over requirements at each school carefully.

How SAT Scores Still Matter

Colleges and universities might be changing their guidelines about requiring SAT scores, but standardized tests still matter not only in the admissions process but beyond.

Here are some reasons why the SAT and a student’s score still matters:

•  Avoiding the SAT could limit options. A student’s target school might not require an SAT score, but what about their safety or reach options? Bypassing the SAT test altogether could end up limiting a student in where they can apply to schools. With no test score at all, they may be limited to schools that don’t require an SAT score, potentially missing out on another great option for them. Forgoing the SAT test completely could mean dramatically cutting off a student’s options before the application process even begins.
•  Considered, but not required. Some schools no longer require SAT scores for applicants, but will still consider them if submitted. Sharing SAT scores can help give admissions officers a more comprehensive picture of the applicant. In addition, if the school is particularly competitive, a strong standardized test score could help a student stand out.
•  Scholarship eligibility. Some universities and nonprofits require an SAT score when applying for merit scholarships. Without an SAT score, applicants might be ineligible, losing on an opportunity to get funding for education.
•  They’re just a piece of the puzzle. SAT scores aren’t the only thing college admission boards consider. They’ll also look at a student’s GPA, extracurriculars, essays, recommendations, and more. No applicant is just a number, and the SAT score is only one small part of a student’s profile. Oftentimes, the score serves only as a screening tool in the beginning and is considered less and less the further a student progresses in the admissions process.
•  Testing out of college courses. Applicants might not need SAT scores to apply to a school, but providing them might make them eligible to test out of core classes . In some schools, SAT scores might determine placement into, or out of 101 classes all students are required to take. Testing out of these courses could lead to graduating faster or spending less on higher education.

While students might not need an SAT score to get into their dream school, preparing for and taking a standardized test could help them secure admission, scholarships, and entry into higher-level courses.

Another Number that Matters: Financing Your Tuition

A student’s SAT score isn’t the only number they’ll have to consider during the admissions process. Another important figure is the cost of tuition, and students will have to start thinking of how they can pay for their education.

On top of federal student loans and scholarships, students might consider private student loans. SoFi’s private student loans offer easy, fee-free private student loans that students can repay their way with flexible repayment options in addition to competitive rate parent student loans.

In a partnership with Edmit, SoFi is providing members access to Edmit Plus for free. Edmit’s data-driven tools help students determine the value of education, and which school might be the right fit. Edmit Plus includes:

•   Personalized scholarship and merit estimates
•   Recommendations and reports for school using data-driven insights
•   Tools for financial planning
•   Post-graduate planning tools, including salary estimates by major and industry

The importance of SAT scores vary school by school, but every student will likely need to consider how they can finance their education. Learn more about the resources available with SoFi.

Interested in a private student loan? Apply for one with SoFi today!



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change. SoFi Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPS20007

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What to Expect at College Orientation

Finally, a summer full of goodbyes, shopping for dorm room essentials, and anticipation is coming to an end. College orientation is an exciting initiation into freshman year and an opportunity to learn about extracurricular activities, make friends, and get acclimated to your new surroundings.

While it may span just a few days or a week in total, college orientation is packed with information and experiences that can set you up for success over the next four years.

Planning ahead and diving into the details of the orientation schedule is just one of many ways to prepare for college. Although every school operates differently, here are some key college orientation tips and things to expect when you arrive on campus.

When Does Orientation Take Place?

Some college orientations happen in the middle of summer before classes, while others take place right before the beginning of the semester. The earlier variety are typically conducted in smaller groups and may be organized separately for specific programs or majors.

Midsummer orientations often give students the opportunity to stay in the dorms ahead of moving to campus. This can be a useful test run to get acquainted with the dorm life and mingle with fellow incoming students.

What Is an Orientation Schedule Like?

Once the college orientation schedule is available, look out for which parts are mandatory, such as taking a student ID photo and registering for classes, and any social, extracurricular, and informational activities that sound interesting or helpful.

College orientation is a time to make friends and get acquainted with college life, but knowing where the dining hall, laundry room, student transportation, and other services are located also comes in handy.

Having a game plan for the orientation schedule also presents an opportunity to invite new acquaintances to attend an event or activity together. At the same time, allowing yourself to go with the flow a bit might alleviate some of the stress.

Compared to a strictly regulated high school schedule, college students are given much more discretion in making decisions for themselves. While this newfound freedom can be liberating, it can present challenges for balancing academic responsibilities with the fun, social aspects of college.

Orientation is a chance to get acclimated before the pressure of staying on top of schoolwork arises.

Due to COVID-19, the incoming class of 2024 is facing an unprecedented situation that will require some, if not all, college orientation activities to take place online. Be sure to check your college’s website to find out more information.

What Happens at Orientation?

The full scope of college orientation will vary by institution. However, there will likely be a mix of instructional and social activities to round out each day. Some topics that are typically covered include:

•   School rules, policies, and code of conduct.
•   Meetings with an academic or department advisor.
•   Guided tour of campus.
•   Skits and role-play activities.
•   Ice breakers with a residential advisor and dorm floormates.

While some sessions may feel tedious, making a good first impression on a residential advisor, professor, and peers can be invaluable.

Learning About Extracurricular Activities and Campus Life

College orientation usually includes a range of informational and fun activities to introduce students to campus activities. Many student clubs and organizations have tables at orientation or early in the semester to meet and attract incoming students.

Depending on school size and culture, the number of offerings and niches can be vast compared to high school, including intramural sports, Greek life, theater troupes, and culture clubs.

Learning the Lay of the Land

After the guided tour, memorizing how to get to the dining hall, student center, and your classrooms will save lots of time and potential embarrassment from being late on the first day of classes. Classrooms may be organized by department in different buildings across campus.

During college orientation, students may be able to join group outings to explore their college town or sign up for guided shopping trips to pick up groceries, cleaning supplies, and other dorm essentials.

Moving Into the Dorms

At colleges that hold orientation directly before the beginning of the semester, students may be able to sign up in advance for a block of time to park and transport their belongings into their dorm room.

With many students and families arriving on the same day, the scene can be a bit of a frenzy. Keep an eye out for registration emails prior to orientation to snag a good move-in time.

Mid to late morning is a safe bet to get ahead of the crowds and summer heat. Also, packing efficiently can save time and stress on this special occasion.

Beyond studying and sleeping, dorms are a social hive for freshmen students. A helpful college orientation tip: Setting up a welcoming, furnished dorm room is a great way to prepare for movie nights and parties with newfound friends.

Downtime for Socializing

The orientation schedule tends to wind down in the afternoon and early evening, allowing students plenty of time to hang out and get to know each other. Keeping that in mind may help resist the urge to skip important orientation sessions to meet up with new roommates and friends.

What About Parents and Family?

Although it’s full of excitement and new horizons, this moment can feel bittersweet for students, parents, and other family members. To honor the occasion, many colleges incorporate group activities, lunches, and festivities for students and families to partake in together during the first day or two of orientation.

Before saying goodbyes, parents and family members may be able to join a separate orientation to prepare them for the transition. Usually, these sessions are intended to provide guidance to support students and offer insight into their child’s life at college.

Also, they are an opportunity to meet other families and learn about resources and noteworthy events, such as family weekend and homecoming.

Paying for College

College orientations may also offer sessions about navigating the financial aid system. Tuition, books, and other educational costs aren’t cheap, and everyone’s financial situation is different.

Financial aid sessions may cover aid distribution dates, when tuition is due, how to pay tuition, and how to add money to student accounts for incidentals. Parents and students may want to attend this session together to ask questions that come up during the discussion.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to pay for higher education. In addition to saving for college ahead of time, there are several options to consider when creating a plan.

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded to students by community organizations, private foundations, nonprofits, colleges, and other groups. The criteria for earning a scholarship are also diverse, though many focus on academic achievement, financial need, or program of study.

According to Sallie Mae’s “How Americans Pay for College” 2019 report, approximately 82% of college students received scholarship money during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Many scholarship applications open before college starts, though there may be additional opportunities once college begins. Researching scholarships in your hometown and college is a great place to start.

Online resources, such as collegeboard.org and chegg.com keep an updated list of scholarships as well. Applying early for scholarships may be an advantage, as some large awards may have early deadlines. For instance, some scholarships stop accepting applications during the fall for distribution the next school year.

Grants

Like scholarships, grants are financial awards given to students to pay for their education—they do not have to be repaid. The main difference is that grants are usually based on need instead of academic merit. Undergraduate students may be eligible to apply for the federal Pell Grant Program or state-wide grant opportunities .

Work-Study

Many college students pick up a part-time job to help pay tuition and living expenses. One way to secure work is through Federal Work-Study , a program that employs qualified college and graduate students in on- or off-campus jobs. Pay varies, but participants will earn at least minimum wage.

Work-study eligibility is based on several factors, including family income and enrollment status, and is offered as part of a student’s financial aid package.

A job is not guaranteed even if work-study is awarded. Early application is key because a school’s program funds may be limited and jobs are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Student Loans

Whether or not you receive a scholarship, grant, or work-study, there are several student loan options you might want to consider applying for.

Federal student loans , which are either subsidized or unsubsidized, are offered as part of a student’s financial aid package. The key difference is that subsidized student loans are allocated according to financial need and include grace periods, and interest deferment in specific situations.

Unsubsidized student loans are not based on financial need, and borrowers are responsible for paying the interest beginning once the loan funds are distributed. While the interest on unsubsidized student loans can be deferred, it will accrue and be added to the balance of the loan.

Private student loans from banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions may help fill any remaining gaps in paying for college. These loans are not subsidized or need-based, and their interest rates and terms can vary.

Exhausting all federal student loan options before exploring private loans is recommended, as federal loans have repayment and consolidation options that are not available to private student loans.

SoFi’s private student loans have an online application, and students find out if they are pre-qualified in a matter of minutes. Repayment plans for no-fee loans are flexible, so borrowers can choose what works best for their budgets.

Learn more about private student loans today with SoFi.



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