Thousands of Oklahoma families are in the midst of one of the most important decisions they'll make: where their children will go to college. And for many, the process involves far more than they expected.
Broken Arrow seniors have plenty on their minds these days with grades, jobs, activities and relationships. But for many, most of their time is consumed with one thing right now: choosing and applying to a college. Counselors say most families are unprepared for the research and paperwork involved. "They're looking at a lot of things and they're getting hit with ACT and SAT tests and different applications,â€ said Broken Arrow High School counselor Marcia Jenkins. â€œThey are receiving so many things in the mail -- it gets pretty overwhelming.â€
The number of forms alone can be daunting. Most college applications also require personal essays, teacher and counselor recommendations. Most families apply for loans, grants or scholarships, requiring the lengthy federal government financial aid form. Jenkins says some students struggle to meet application deadlines. "It's difficult for some of them to find the time they need to take care of all the loose ends,â€ she said. â€œEspecially if they're not sure of where they want to go. It's so important for a senior right now to have that narrowed down."
Jenkins says it's important to start early, follow a timeline, and get resources from school counselors or public libraries. There's also plenty of help available on the Internet. Narrow your search, then work closely with college representatives.
Counselors also recommend a free Internet service called Fast Web. It's full of information about applying to college. Broken Arrow senior Ferrell Riley III uses Fast Web for detailed scholarship information. "I found a current listing of all the scholarships for which, according to my search criteria, I might be eligible." Ferrell says the process is consuming a lot of his time and his parents. "On Saturday, I spend at least half the day working on college and scholarship applications,â€ he said. â€œDuring the week, I spend an hour each day working through flyers, filling out applications and writing
If you need help applying for college financial aid, the Tulsa City-County Library is presenting a free seminar Thursday night. Experts will be at Central Library downtown from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM to answer your questions.