College Planning Checklist

Resource Photo - College Planning Checklist

Success at college begins with careful planning before you ever step foot in a classroom. Regardless of the type of school you'll be attending, there are several items that every prospective college student should add to their checklist of preparations when planning their college experience.

Identify Schools

If you think you want to attend college, begin by researching schools that you think you could realistically qualify for and afford to attend. If you know what you want to study, you can filter out potential schools based on whether they teach the subjects you're interested in. Other factors that might impact your decision include the school's physical location, tuition rates and reputation.

Prepare Yourself for College

Before you begin applying for colleges or planning out your college life, you need to make sure that you'll be able to get into your preferred school. Research the entrance requirements for your schools as early as possible so that you can be sure to qualify for the school. If you need to take any tests to fulfill the entrance requirements, arrange to take them and have the scores sent to your schools. Also make sure that you obtain the necessary documentation for the application process, such as school transcripts or proof of identity.

Research Deadlines

College applicants must often meet a variety of deadlines during the application process. Some schools only accept applications once a year, but other colleges may have several application deadlines throughout the course of the year. If you're planning on applying for financial aid, you'll need to stay on top of those deadlines as well.

Work Out Your Finances

Attending college can place a strain on your financial situation. Calculate both your living expenses and any schooling expenses before you apply so that you can arrange for financing to cover your education. Government programs, such as Pell grants, may be able to help you cover your expenses. You can also apply for student loans, scholarships and other grants. If you already have a job, you may be able to alter your work hours so that you can continue working while you attend school.

Plan Your Transportation

If you don't own a car, you'll need to make sure that you can reliably get to and from your campus. Research any public transit options that might work for you, and ride the route several times to time how long it takes you to get to school. Depending on your situation, you may also be able to move to be close enough to walk or bike to school.

Research Program Requirements

If you know what you want to study at school, you can research the program requirements of each school so that you can plan your studies accordingly. For example, some schools might not offer a required class every term; if you plan your schooling poorly, you might miss your chance to take that class and have to delay your graduation. If your program will require an internship or major project, make sure that you have a plan in place to fulfill that requirement.

Familiarize Yourself with the School

Before you settle on a school, familiarize yourself with the school's policies and its physical campus. If the school has any unusual policies or special requirements, you don't want to be blindsided by them after you've already invested time and money into your schooling. You'll also want to walk around campus so that you can decide if you like the school's atmosphere and culture; exploring the school can also help you figure out how much time it might take to move between classes. Schedule a personalized tour of CVTC.

Arrange Your Schedule

Once you've been accepted into a school and chosen your program, you can plan your schedule to work with your life. Whenever possible, schedule breaks between classes to fit with your needs, and don't neglect to give yourself meal breaks between classes. You may also need to arrange your classes to work around your employment or transportation schedule. Give yourself a buffer so that you won't have to scramble to make it to your classes or other obligations on time.

Attending college is a major undertaking that shouldn't be embarked upon on a whim. With study and preparation, however, you can have a successful college experience that will enrich your life and your future employment prospects.

To connect with a College Specialist, email us at or call 715.833.6300.

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