Step One

Stay Involved in Outside Activities

Now’s the time for your student to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, the arts, hobbies, projects, and more. These can all be added to their brag sheet later.

What You Need to Know

High School Is Stressful: A Mom Expresses Concern and Our Community Responds

A Stressed Mom Speaks Out (A version of this story was first published anonymously by a mom in our Paying

College Planning Checklist for 11th Grade

Junior year of high school is an important time for students in the college admissions process. Use our college planning

Volunteering in High School Means Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards for Your Child

Not every student is an A-team athlete or the star of the school play, nor do they have to be

Certification Classes for Teens, High Schoolers

Whether your child is thinking about taking a few classes before college, in between semesters, or even jumping right in

Summer Programs for High School Students

Summer programs for high school students offer opportunities ranging from local college classes to programs around the world. As college

What Are the Easiest and Hardest College Majors?

No one ever said that college would be easy. For some, choosing a major is far from the most difficult

Step Two

Use College Search Resources & Tools

Tools and resources like guide books and school websites can be tremendously helpful. Use them often.

What You Need to Know

High School Is Stressful: A Mom Expresses Concern and Our Community Responds

A Stressed Mom Speaks Out (A version of this story was first published anonymously by a mom in our Paying

A Community Member Shares HBCU Scholarship and College Application Tips

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

College Planning Checklist for 11th Grade

Junior year of high school is an important time for students in the college admissions process. Use our college planning

How to Get Into Highly Rejective Colleges

This story was originally published in R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group. It has been edited for

Why You Should Research a College’s Career Service Center Before Enrolling

There’s a lot to consider when helping your child make the best possible decision on where to go to college.

Paying for College 101: College Financing Best Practices

Sending a child to college is never easy—financially, logistically, or emotionally—but going at it alone is even more difficult. To

Step Three

Prep for & Take Standardized Tests

Your student has studied, taken practice tests, and studied some more. Now it’s time to take the official standardized test(s). Whether they’re AP, ACT, or SAT, test scores are an important part of the college application process.

What You Need to Know

What to Know About the Digital SAT

This post was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity

An Expert Shares How Your Student Can Improve Their SAT Score

This post was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity

High School Is Stressful: A Mom Expresses Concern and Our Community Responds

A Stressed Mom Speaks Out (A version of this story was first published anonymously by a mom in our Paying

SAT and ACT Prep: Your Guide to the Best Free Resources

SAT and ACT prep doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, many of the best resources are free. Below, I’ve

Important Test-Day SAT Tips

The benefits of preparing academically for the SAT are obvious, but many families underestimate the importance of preparing emotionally and

Online AP Courses: Pros and Cons

You’ve weighed the pros and cons of the AP program, and you would like to have your student try out

Step Four

Learn About Financial Aid/Options

When it comes to paying for college, make sure you know the FAFSA process, and all of your options, including need-based aid, merit scholarships, loans, and more.

What You Need to Know

Financial Aid and More: How to Pay for College With No Money

For many families, saving up enough money to cover the entire cost of their children’s higher education just isn’t possible.

FAFSA Corrections: How to Make Changes to Your FAFSA Form

If you made a mistake when submitting the FAFSA, contact your school’s financial aid office and let them know. They

How to Avoid Student Loan Debt

This story was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC101) group. It has been edited for clarity and

How to Make Affordable Colleges Even More Affordable

This story was written by Elizabeth, a member of R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group, where it

You Should Be Asking These Questions About Financial Aid

This article was sponsored by College Ave Student Loans. College Ave takes the stress out of paying for college so

Best Side Gigs for Parents to Pay for College

Paying for college can be daunting. That’s why more and more parents of college-bound students are looking for additional ways

Step Five

Request Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important component of the process. And again, who to ask and how to ask can make a big difference.

What You Need to Know

Holistic Admissions: Your Child Is More Than Their Grades and Test Scores

What Are Holistic Admissions? Applying to college can be one of the most stressful times of your child’s life, and

What Should You Put in a Brag Sheet for College?

The brag sheet is an integral piece of the college application process, and yet it’s not talked about often enough.

Tips for Getting a Great Letter of Recommendation for College

A letter of recommendation for college is one of the most universal parts of the application process. It’s something every

Funding College When You Have a FAFSA Score of Zero

There’s a whole subset of would-be college attendees who do not qualify for financial aid based on the FAFSA, but

5 Strategies We Used to Prepare Our Kids to Succeed

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… This is insider information that I’ve never publicly shared before.

How to Apply for Scholarships: Tips From a Mom in the Know

Sometimes the best way to learn is to go through the process yourself and then share your learnings with others.

Step Six

Plan College Visits

There’s nothing like seeing a school up close and in person, but it may not always be possible. Know the right questions to ask—whether it’s IRL or virtually.

What You Need to Know

What to Look Out for on College Tours

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

A Parent Shares Real-Life Tips on How to Get Into College

This story was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity

The Pros and Cons of Attending a Community College Before a University

When your child thinks of the typical college freshman experience, they might envision moving into a dorm room or rushing

Look Beyond College Rankings to Find Good Schools

There are many sites that use various criteria to assess colleges and then publish their lists for all prospective college

Virtual College Tours: Are They Worth It?

As a result of COVID-19, the entire college application process, school tours included, has changed. Although on-campus tours are expected

Funding College When You Have a FAFSA Score of Zero

There’s a whole subset of would-be college attendees who do not qualify for financial aid based on the FAFSA, but

Step Seven

Build a College List

The college list you and your student create will define the amount of time and effort required to complete the application process. From essays to demonstrated interest, financial aid forms to campus visits, make and hone the list until it reflects the right academic and financial balance for your family.

What You Need to Know

PROOF POINTS: Why elite colleges won’t give up legacy admissions

This story about legacy admissions was written by Jill Barshay and produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused

A Community Member Shares HBCU Scholarship and College Application Tips

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

Engineering Colleges: My Son’s Admissions Journey

This story was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity

Choosing a College: Henry’s Story

This story was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity

How to Get Into College

This story was written by a member of R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group, where it was

How to Make Affordable Colleges Even More Affordable

This story was written by Elizabeth, a member of R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group, where it

Step Eight

Understand the Admissions Process & Deadlines

When it comes to meeting deadlines, keeping records and staying organized will save your student from potential disappointment.

What You Need to Know

PROOF POINTS: Why elite colleges won’t give up legacy admissions

This story about legacy admissions was written by Jill Barshay and produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused

FAFSA Corrections: How to Make Changes to Your FAFSA Form

If you made a mistake when submitting the FAFSA, contact your school’s financial aid office and let them know. They

A Community Member Shares HBCU Scholarship and College Application Tips

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

PROOF POINTS: Colleges that ditched test scores for admissions find it’s harder to be fair in choosing students, researcher says

This story about test optional admissions was written by Jill Barshay and produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused

How to Get Into Highly Rejective Colleges

This story was originally published in R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group. It has been edited for

College Decision Day: It May Not Be What You Think

In the past, College Decision Day signified the deadline for seniors to choose the college or university they wanted to

Step Nine

Start Essay Drafts

A good college essay is key to college admissions. Learn what makes a compelling essay before your student begins writing.

What You Need to Know

Holistic Admissions: Your Child Is More Than Their Grades and Test Scores

What Are Holistic Admissions? Applying to college can be one of the most stressful times of your child’s life, and

College Essay Topics You’ll Want to Avoid

Students preparing to get into college are naturally going to be pitted against each other in a game of stats.

Funding College When You Have a FAFSA Score of Zero

There’s a whole subset of would-be college attendees who do not qualify for financial aid based on the FAFSA, but

Colleges Without Supplemental Essays

You’re ready to apply for colleges, and perhaps you’ve already begun the process of selecting your preferred schools and filling

5 Strategies We Used to Prepare Our Kids to Succeed

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… This is insider information that I’ve never publicly shared before.

How to Apply for Scholarships: Tips From a Mom in the Know

Sometimes the best way to learn is to go through the process yourself and then share your learnings with others.

Step Ten

Begin the Common Application

Make sure your student reviews the application before beginning the process. When your student has an idea of what’s needed to complete it, there won’t be any unexpected surprises.

What You Need to Know

Mistakes to Avoid on the Common App

The Common Application is accepted by more than 1,000 schools. It enables students to apply to multiple colleges and universities at

High School Resumes May Be More Valuable Than Ever for College Admissions

Students who invest time creating a high school resume for college applications may be handsomely rewarded in the admissions process.

Common App Essay Tips That Really Work

Does the prospect of writing your Common App essay fill you with fear? You are not alone.  In the ten

STEP ELEVEN

Search & Apply for Private Scholarships

Merit aid is lovely, but sometimes, it doesn’t come through. There are other options to fill some of the cost gaps, like private scholarships. Although researching these takes perseverance, the effort can pay off.

What You Need to Know

Financial Aid and More: How to Pay for College With No Money

For many families, saving up enough money to cover the entire cost of their children’s higher education just isn’t possible.

How to Get Into College

This story was written by a member of R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group, where it was

How to Make Affordable Colleges Even More Affordable

This story was written by Elizabeth, a member of R2C’s Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook group, where it

How to Find Scholarships

Everyone wants to know how to find college scholarships. The first step is to understand what type of scholarships you’re

Scholarships With February Deadlines

Here is a list of scholarships, all of which have February deadlines. Association of Women in Mathematics Essay Contest Amount:

Paying for College 101: College Financing Best Practices

Sending a child to college is never easy—financially, logistically, or emotionally—but going at it alone is even more difficult. To

Tools & Services Recommended for You

There may come a time when you realize you can’t do it all alone. Use any of the many tools in our toolbox to assist you on the road to college.

Become a Member

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