June 2020
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A To Do List for Heading Off to College

The class of 2020 has shown resiliency and courage in navigating remote schooling, making college decisions without visiting campus, and missing hallmarks of the high school experience like crossing the stage at graduation. Despite these tremendous hurdles, you made it! While you relax this summer, take some time to prepare for your entry into college life. Here’s a to-do list for you to consider:

  1. Set up your student portal. As a college student, faculty and staff will communicate with you through your student email and the student portal. If you have not done so already, be sure to create your account soon! The student portal will give you access to billing, class registration, electronic forms, email, and orientation information. Without a student account, you may miss your first bill which arrives in June or July.
  2. Sign financial aid documents. If you filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you are eligible for Direct Stafford Loans from the government. If you plan to use these loans to help pay for college, you must complete Entrance Counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN). Entrance Counseling educates students on how to be a good borrower ‑ you’ll learn about your rights and responsibilities, read short articles on topics ranging from managing spending to repayment, and answer short comprehension questions. The MPN is essential because, without it, loans cannot be disbursed to your school. The form only takes about 30 minutes and you will need your FSA ID (the username and password created to file the FAFSA), the name and contact information for a reference, and the name of your college or university. The links to both the MPN and Entrance Counseling often come to your student email, so be sure to check regularly!
  3. Complete required paperwork. You may have received “new student” paperwork from your school, either virtually or in the mail. Check-in with the school to see what you need, but know that you can expect a form concerning health insurance. If you plan to waive the school-offered health insurance plan, you will need to complete the waiver form and provide proof of insurance. If you plan to use the school’s health insurance, you will need to opt-in. We also recommend memorizing your social security number and your student ID number; you’ll need both for many forms!
  4. Attend orientation. With Covid-19, orientation programs will likely look a bit different than previous years. Remember that colleges will communicate changes, dates, and helpful information through your student email or student portal. Regardless of location, orientation introduces you to campus services, begins the course registration process, and allows you to meet other students. Social media is also a good place to learn about changes in programming ‑ many schools will have a Facebook page for the upcoming class which allows students to ask questions and meet one another. You could also find your roommate through the Facebook page!
  5. Apply for a job on campus. If work-study was included in your award package from financial aid (or if you are interested in getting a campus job), you may be able to apply online for open positions. Sometimes schools will place work-study students in open positions, so it is best to inquire with the campus employment office or college website for more information. Keep in mind that you will likely need to complete paperwork, like the I-9 or the W-4, to become an employee.
  6. Have a conversation with your parents. As a college student, the school is unable to speak to your parents regarding your educational record (academics, wellness, financial aid) without written permission from you. This is called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Talk to your parents about their involvement in your life as a college student ‑ also know that you can change your mind at any time, so your decision is not final the day you walk on campus. The FERPA agreement is often found in your student portal, but if you have any questions your advisor can help.

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Earn College Credit from Your Beach Chair

Have your summer plans changed because of Covid-19? Many students across the state are adjusting to a new normal ‑ meaning summer jobs, camps, and travel plans have changed. In response to Covid-19 and the impact it has had on high school students, Granite State College will offer four (4) online courses beginning on July 6. These four (4) courses ‑ Interpersonal Communication and Group Dynamics, Foundations of Education, the Writing Process, and Introduction to Psychology ‑ will earn rising juniors and seniors (must be at least 16 years old) college-level credit. Once enrolled, students will be matched with a professional Academic Advisor for support throughout the summer. For details about the program, including the discounted tuition rate, course descriptions, and next steps, click here. The flexibility of these courses allow you to have agency of your learning experience and will give you a taste for life as a college student.

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The SAT and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way students access college readiness and planning tools. Earlier this year the College Board announced they would cancel SAT testing dates during the spring semester to ensure the safety of test-takers ‑ but all students can now register for the fall semester! In New Hampshire, students can participate in the School Day SAT ‑ if your district did not administer the SAT because of the pandemic, there will be dates in the fall semester.

If schools remain closed, there will be an option to take the SAT remotely. The College Board has written a helpful blog post with frequently asked questions covering many of these topics, which can be found here. Also, we recommend frequently checking the College Board’s website and social media accounts to remain up-to-date.

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Summer Book Club

Looking for some light reading this summer? For June, July, and August, the Center for College Planning will recommend college planning books that provide insight into the college journey. Book number one: The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College by Harlan Cohen. The humorous title of this book hints that its content will discuss topics you might not hear about during college orientation. Cohen’s book provides a “behind-the-scenes” discussion of what you need to know about being a college student before packing up the car. The stories and advice in this book come directly from students across the country, as they dish up their thoughts on issues ranging from making friends to going to class.

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Class of 2021 - Join Us for the College Essay Boot Camp

Writing and math are often very polarizing subjects ‑ you either love them or you hate them. The college essay requires college applicants to tell their story through the written word, but what do you do if writing causes anxiety? Firstly, it’s okay to feel anxious! Writing is not easy; it’s a very vulnerable process. Admissions representatives do not expect your college essay to be the next nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, but rather a representation of YOU. Much of the college applicatin is formulaic, meaning all students answer the same questions. The college essay breaks from this formula and allows for individuality that cannot be showcased elsewhere in the application. When thinking about the topic for your essay, start by thinking about who you are ‑ we are all individuals with unique interests, hopes, backgrounds, and insights. What makes an essay compelling is not your comma usage or your complex sentences, but the story you tell. If you’re itching to get started on your essay today, we recommend checking out “The Write Stuff” webinar on the college essay.

As you begin the writing process, let us support you! Our virtual (and FREE!) College Essay Boot Camps during the summer are open to all NH students. During these sessions, we will review successful college essays, discuss what colleges look for in the essay, brainstorm, and draft. There will also be time for each student to speak with college counselors and admissions professionals about their topic! Reserve your spot by calling us at 888.747.2382 ext.119 today. We hope to see you there!

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College Major Spotlight ‑ “Undecided”

How would you answer the question: “What’s your major?” For nearly two-thirds of college students, the answer is “undecided.” Choosing a major is a big decision, but it does not have to be an intimidating one. As a prospective college student, it is okay to not have all the answers ‑ that’s why colleges and universities have the option for students to enter as undecided. Most schools do not require students to declare a major until the end of freshman or sophomore year, which means there is time to explore!

Try answering these questions to determine your passions and interests: What classes did you enjoy most in high school? How would you define your personality? When do you feel most fulfilled? Considering your answers to these questions will begin a conversation on choosing an area of study. The next step is researching colleges with a variety of majors and strong general education programs, so you can take courses across a variety of disciplines. In our #collegeboundnh LIVE! webinar, Paths to Choosing a Major, Shanyn Grenier from Coe Brown Academy also explains how you can explore majors and interests outside of the classroom: think internships, volunteer work, part-time jobs, or enrichment programs.

In addition to Paths to Choosing a Major, our other 18 webinars from #collegeboundnh LIVE! Week will help you learn more about college admissions. Each webinar has a different topic ranging from a panel discussion with admissions representatives to using social media as a tool to choose a college or university. Check out the links to our #collegeboundnh LIVE! recordings on our YouTube playlist here.


Attention Class of 2021: Are you using College Board to study for the SAT and build your college list? If so, you could be considered for scholarship money! The Complete Your Journey scholarship awards $40,000 to students who complete six college planning steps: build a college list, practice for the SAT, improve SAT scores, file the FAFSA, strengthen the college list, and apply to colleges. Students in the Class of 2021 can join now ‑ by creating a college list on BigFuture by July 31, 2020, you can compete for money to help you pay for college.