What You Need To Know Before College

Andrea | A Glimpse of Good
4 min readJul 29, 2021

College Life 2.0 — “Where + when do I want to go?”

We are in the college search again with child #2. And if this is your first time or fourth time around there are always new ideas to think about. My teens have totally different interests + personalities and that makes for different wants in their college life too.

It also makes it really fun for Mom to explore in this adventure with them.

You can find College Life 1.0 right here ➯ College::Are You Ready? for more details to help in your search.

Emma and I went on college visits near home and across the country. It was full of fun, delayed flights, a lost rental car, my favorite walking shoes, + colleges of all sizes to see where she was most comfortable.

In the post above I gave 5 tips to remember when visiting a collage campus. Today we are focusing on when to apply + the other tidbits to think about in your high school senior year {I know, as if you don’t already have enough to think about right?}.

college visits, Gonzaga, high school senior photographer

College Life:: Which Ones + When To Apply.

TIP 1:: What is your Slam Dunk, Possible, and Reach college?

A slam dunk college {non-competitive colleges} is one where you’re a shoe-in for acceptance. A possible college {competitive colleges} is one you could possibly get that acceptance letter from, and your reach college is the highly competitive, usually ivy-league school, that’ll take A LOT of work to get that big envelope in your mailbox.

High school counselors encourage students to apply to one in each category. Every acceptance year is different based on the pool of applicants, but if you don’t apply, you definitely won’t get in.

Does all the college life talk sound like Charlie Brown’s wah-wah-wah talking teacher? If you don’t have a clue what you want to study, local community colleges might be a good fit for your first few years. There is no wrong answer here — it’s all about YOU.

TIP 2:: Apply as early as possible

Early action is applying early to your first choice school. No commitment but you’ve started the process towards going to XYZ school. Early decision however is a binding contract. Some schools offer you a better chance of acceptance if you choose early decision. Be 100% sure that’s the school you want before checking that box!

Applying early to some colleges also gives you priority to their scholarships. Check into that option at each school you’re applying to so you don’t miss the money train. There’s a $1,000 or more good reasons for applying as soon as you’re sure about a college.


Sit down with a big bowl of ice cream and fill out that FAFSA! We all have to do it. The updated FAFSA comes out around September — October {Double check that you’re filling out the correct year}.

TIP 4:: What scholarships does the college offer you + what other scholarships can you apply/audition for

Questions to find out when it comes to scholarships::

  • What is the length of the scholarship — all four years, only your first year?
  • What GPA do you have to maintain for the scholarship?
  • Can I audition for scholarships that aren’t in my major?
  • What work study scholarships are offered?

TIP 5:: DON’T wait until the last minute

Procrastinating until 4:50 pm the night before to get your letters of recommendation, official transcripts, + ACT/SAT scores sent off is the best way TO STRESS EVERYONE OUT! And miss out on money.

News Flash! You’re not the only one asking the counselor for these things. Do you like easy + calm or misery + frazzled?

Look at that checklist you filled out from my College Life post 1.0 and highlight the top three to five colleges where you felt like you could hang your coat {or hat if you’re heading to warmer climates}.

Then get online and email your admissions contact about any lingering questions you have before you apply.

Have a few colleges you’d like to add or see again? Emma and I made a girls trip out-of some visits + memories I won’t soon forget::

  • Rented my first convertible {my idea — she’s the practical one}
  • Saw a movie we knew the boys wouldn’t wanna see
  • Got lost a few times + lost our car
  • Walked + talked and talked + walked
  • Captured more photos for her senior album

There are so many colleges out there and narrowing the contenders can get overwhelming at times. But when you find your campus and settle into college life, it’s all worth it!

Enjoy the ride! Because it doesn’t last forever.

💖Andrea | Shining Moments Photography in Sycamore, Illinois

Mom | High School Senior + Headshot Photographer | Forever an adult-in-training

It’s a soccer life, high school senior photographer, Sycamore Illinois, soccer, Shining Moments Photography



Andrea | A Glimpse of Good

Globe Gallivanter. 50+ Style Enthusiast. Book Buff. Wine Taster. Queen of Quirky | Lifestyle Blogger + Renovator of THGB