Now is the time for high school seniors around the country to figure out what comes next in their young lives. For many of them, that next step will be college. If that’s the case, hopefully, they have a strong support system helping them with their preparation for the grueling academic rigors of higher learning.

That preparation includes a number of crucial steps that must be followed in order to be considered for the college of each student’s choice. The website Go College had some helpful hints to achieve the desired success.

Standardized testing: The SAT and ACT are typically required standardized testing for students applying to college. While some schools offer their own SAT and ACT prep courses, there are also other options, like the company Princeton Review, that specialize in standardized test preparation.

“Once you have taken the SAT or ACT you will be sent your test scores,” Go College writes. “Before you send the results to any potential colleges, review your scores closely and assess whether they truly reflect your best work. Some students test poorly, and can benefit from a second go at the testing process. If you think you can do better on your college boards, plan on taking the test again in the early fall. You will want to present the best possible test score when you make your college applications.”

College application essays: College admissions officers give serious credence to essays, so this portion of the application process is important. According to Go College, there are nine steps that should be followed to submit the most effective essay: do your research; brainstorm; write an outline; seek feedback from a school counselor, parent or guardian; write it; revise it; edit it; have a peer edit it; then submit it!

Deadlines: This should go without saying, but missing any deadline associated with a college application is not advisable, to say the least. It can mean the difference between acceptance and a wait list and a flat-out denial.

Letters of recommendation: These notes that co-sign students’ academic prowess are weighed heavily by college admissions officers. Go College says that “A good letter of recommendation can dramatically increase your chances of being accepted to the college of your choice, so it is important to choose your letter’s author wisely, and to provide them with all the help and information they need to present a solid recommendation.”

Financial aid: With college costs seemingly at an all-time high, not everyone can afford room and board, let alone tuition. That’s where financial aid scholarships come in, and there is seemingly one for everyone. The website College Scholarships.org offers a number of resources to help students decide which scholarships they should apply for. “The scholarships you want are just a few clicks away,” the website writes.

Watch the National Urban League video series here to learn more about ways you can support your child.

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