Planning ahead is key in applying for college

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Applying for a post-secondary education can be an arduous affair with heaps of paperwork.

However, a local college official said planning ahead is the key to navigating the application process.

"What we try to stress to prospective students is to apply early," said Tee Mitchell, director of admissions with Georgia Gwinnett College.

Students who apply in October of their senior year of high school are more likely to have "wiggle room" for any potential hold-ups in the application process.

The following is a check list of things to consider when applying:

-- Apply early and apply to multiple schools. Narrow it down to a list of three prospective institutions in case anything falls through.

-- Visit the campus. Mitchell said campus visits are the "number one conversion rate during the decision-making process. It's one thing to apply and another to actually go on to the campus and see what it has to offer with your own eyes."

-- Get financial aid squared away early, preferably in tandem with the application process. Said Mitchell: "We try to stress it's critical that January of each year is when students should complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)."

-- Choose an orientation date. Use the event to get acquainted with clubs and organizations as well as faculty members. The orientation will provide facts about the college and registration information for classes specific to each institution.

For more tips and insights into the college application process, visit www.collegeboard.org.