Ways to make college prep process easier

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News 12 This Morning / Friday, Sept. 6, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- For juniors and seniors starting to look ahead at college plans, it can be a difficult and confusing process.

"It can be extremely stressful," said Eddie Howard Ph.D. "The reason why it's so stressful is because there's so much information."

Dr. Howard, Vice President for Student Affairs at Augusta Tech, is talking about the college preparation process--including applications, choosing which school and figuring out financials.

He says after 20 years working in higher education, even he found it stressful when it was his turn to take that journey.

"I recently had a son go to college, so I went through that same deal myself and I've been in higher education for a long time," he explained. "But, it still was a process."

But there are ways to make it easier. First--get started now.

"Know where you want to go," he said. "Start out figuring out what your end goal is going to be. Some schools admit extremely early."

And it's never too early to start. Dr. Howard says in some cases, universities will actually waive fees if you apply early.

"Fill out a FAFSA, the application for free financial aid to see what options you have out there," he said. "[such as] a student loan or if there's some grant money you can receive or if there's scholarships out there."

If you decide to apply for scholarships, consider stacking those applications.

"Some people will go out there and look for a full ride of scholarships. But, you can find 10, 12 small scholarships that will make up the package."

Next, make sure to streamline your options.

"Don't pick so many schools," Dr. Howard suggested. "Be realistic. Narrow those down to two or three, and then be serious about know all the deadlines for those three."

Once you narrow it down, don't be afraid to reach out.

"There are tons of people all over the nation that are willing to help," he said. "We want to see students succeed because we're creating leaders for the future."

And for students who aren't exactly sure what they want to do, Dr. Howard suggests making a list of the things you love to do and doing research on those things to see what kind of jobs there are out there.

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