The Moore American

October 3, 2012

Tips to get started if you want to attend college


The Moore American

MOORE — Question: I am a senior, and no one in my family has ever gone to college. I didn’t think I’d be going either, but I hear my friends talking about it, and now I really want to go. How do I start?

— Matt

Answer: Dear Matt,

Good for you! We are so glad to hear you say you’d like to further your education.

There are several things that need to be done fairly quickly.

First, if you haven’t taken the ACT exam, you need to sign up for it at act.org. The higher the score, the more academic money you could receive.

Have an idea of schools you’d like to attend, because ACT will send your scores to the schools you’ve selected. If you opt for a community college, they are not concerned with a particular score but, instead, just that you have taken it. Still, the higher the score, the more academic financial aid you can receive.

Second, once you have your score, you need to apply at whatever school you choose. The deadline is usually Feb. 1. Most colleges have access to their applications on their websites.

Third, if you don’t have an idea what career path you’d like to study, take an interest inventory to see where your strengths and interests lie.

One such website is okhighered.org/gearup, and another really good one is okcareertech.org. This may help you determine the best school for you, because some colleges have strong programs in some areas or they might be the only one offering a particular program.

Last, apply for FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) when your parents get their tax information around the beginning of the year. Try to do this as early as possible because some money is first come, first served. This is another way to get grants and scholarships based on financial need.

The website is fafsa.gov. You need to visit this website to request a PIN number at least a week before filling out the FAFSA. You will create a username and will need your PIN number to fill out the actual application. Once you have zeroed in on the school, check to see if they offer any first-generation scholarships, since no one in your family has ever gone to college.

Think about this: Make sure your study habits are good and you aren’t going to school just because of friends and social life. Please don’t be afraid to ask any adult at the school questions you might have. We know it can be a little intimidating when no one before you has experienced this. All the best.

Q: What do you think about tattoos while in high school?

A: Well, there is a little information lacking. Are you a parent? A high school student? A sixth-grader? In any case, we can certainly tell you what we think.

Tattoos are permanent, life-long symbols. Although you may feel committed to something or someone right now, it could and probably will change. It’s very expensive to have a tattoo lasered off, for example — not to mention the pain. It also doesn’t really go away completely.

Our best advice is to wait until you are an adult and have experienced some of what life has to offer. One of us has some small tattoos, as do four or five of our children. We were all older and made the decision after a lot of thought and planning. Also, if you aren’t 18, a parent will have to sign a permission waiver. Put lots of thought into this and don’t act impulsively.

Sally Phillips and Jeannie DeLancey are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children and Sally has three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district. Send questions to questions.classact@gmail.com or mail them to Class Act, The Norman Transcript, P.O. Drawer 1058, Norman, 73070.