(The photo is of the four Newberg High School Counselors, from left to right: Michelle Kim, Nicki Eggiman, Angela Kantz, and Sarah Stevens.)
By Cameron Kelly, NHS senior
As seniors experience their final memories of high school, they are faced with having to make important decisions that will shape their future.
One of the biggest decisions of their lives is deciding whether to pursue a higher education or opt for alternatives, such as entering the workforce or taking a gap year. All can lead to incredible opportunities for bright futures. The path that I chose was to apply for college to further my academic growth, seek new social experiences, and pursue career prospects. Choosing a college includes campus tours, searching for scholarships, and applying for financial aid, all of which can be time-consuming.
Campus tours are one of the best parts of the entire process because they allow you to experience the atmosphere of a campus and imagine yourself as a student there. It is important to schedule several tours at colleges of interest. There are a multitude of colleges that have days that allow incoming freshmen to explore the campus. Usually, during a campus tour, a college will allow you to tour the parts of the school that align with your interests. Many campus tours also allow you to attend sessions on admissions, housing, and financial aid, including FAFSA and local scholarships.
Scholarships are everywhere; there are countless options available to prospective college students. The College and Career Center at Newberg High School provides scholarship opportunities. Additionally, websites like scholarshippoints.com and nichescholarships.com are available for students. Many scholarships relate to specific interests and majors in college. It is important to have the mindset of: “The more scholarships I apply to, the higher chance I have of earning a scholarship.” With that in mind, I have applied for as many scholarships as possible. College costs add up quickly, so earning as much as I can is important.
Financial aid also helps, but not that this year, the financial aid application process has changed. Previously, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form became available on Oct. 1 of each year and had a deadline of June 30 or the end of the academic year. However, this year, the FAFSA form is not available until late December due to the form being updated and simplified in addition to expanding eligibility for federal student aid.
Applicants will receive an aid offer after they have completed and submitted the form, which asks for parent income, parent assets, student income, and student assets. This aid offer will explain the types and amounts of aid a college is offering you, and your expected costs for the year. The offer can be a combination of grants, loans, and work-study funds. If a student has been accepted into multiple colleges, it is important to compare the costs and aid offers to find the best fit. I am planning ahead to avoid as much debt as possible through scholarships and careful decisions with my FAFSA application.
If this sounds like a lot of work, remember that you’re not alone. Having a personal connection with your counselor is important because they can provide individualized guidance. They can help a student pick the right college, apply for scholarships, and apply for financial aid. My counselor, Mrs. Kantz, is amazing because she is always available and willing to answer any questions regarding the college application process for all of her students.
It’s not just the counselors who can help. Seeking the guidance and support of loved ones when applying to college can make or break the process. This can include parents, family members, friends, and teachers. They can give valuable advice, share their experiences, and offer emotional support during this stressful time. Additionally, they can help brainstorm ideas for applications, proofread essays, and provide encouragement when needed. Having their support can make the college application process feel less overwhelming and more enjoyable. I am grateful for the people who have been supporting me through this process: They have all helped me to succeed.
While this has been my experience throughout the college application process, no two experiences are the same. The college tour process is all about soaking up as much as possible regarding each of the colleges visited and figuring out where each student feels that they can have a great college experience and take steps toward a bright future. Applying for scholarships and financial aid can be time-consuming and stressful on the front end, but careful consideration of finances can help make college less stressful on the back end when there is less money owed to colleges or loans.
Although senior year can be consumed by making a major decision toward a student’s future, it is one of the most exciting times in life. It is a time of closure on final memories of high school and a period of new adventures and new beginnings. Furthering my academic growth, seeking new social experiences, and pursuing career prospects is an exciting path ahead. I cannot wait to see all of the paths that are chosen by my senior class and I am very excited to begin the next chapter of my life!