© 2019 by Evan Woodall, EdS, LPC

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  • Evan Woodall, EdS, LPC

College is upon us!

I am somewhat of a professional student, working on a PhD currently and have 4 othe degrees under my belt, and have learned quite a bit along the way. Here are some tips about starting college, books, and financial aid.


First, it is probably too late now but most colleges and universities have so many scholarships available...they give away so much money! Jump on their website or hop into their financial aid office to see what they may offer. You will probably have to write an essay but that's not too challenging (keep the essay and tweak it for several scholarships). You can try sites like scholarships.com (use a trash email, you WILL get tons of spam). Another great site is collegeincolorado.org , you don't have to be a resident or even attending college in Colorado to use their site...Apply for all of them that you can. It's harder to find scholarships the more advanced you get so try for all of the free money you can as early as you can.

You will also probably need to complete the FAFSA (federal student aid) most scholarship don't require you to qualify for student aid, just to apply. Use fafsa.ed.gov, it's the free site. You don't want to take any money that isn't necessary (aka student loans) because you will have to pay it back starting as soon as you have a 6 month break in classes...(think extra car payment a month if you take student loans every semester).


You can use scholarships, Veteran's benefits, and financial aid all at the same time. The school should use scholarship monies first, followed by Veteran's benefits, and then financial aid. Sometimes the financial aid (aka Pell and/or student loans) can be pocketed in it's entirety if you have other monies available. (You know, it's to help offset living expenses and stuff like that.)


You can usually use financial aid money to purchase textbooks and supplies at the college bookstore. If you are relying on financial aid to pay for your texts and supplies, you will be spending more money...I recommend you put back some of your refund or save throughout the semester, so that you can purchase books for less the next semester.


And you guys, college textbooks in America are ridiculously expensive! Like unnecessarily expensive. You usually have options for books. You can buy new or used books. Books don't need to be new...used books are usually less expensive and are sometimes already highlighted for you! You *might* be able to use a previous edition, which is significantly cheaper (but ask your professor first).


Ebooks are another option. They are less expensive and available on any device. They may also come with an audible option for you auditory learners. With auditory books you could listen while working out or on the car. They aren't great for learning by osmosis but it never hurts to try! Another option for digital books is OpenStax.org. The Gates Foundation had made thousands of textbooks free to the public...so check there...some college teachers will choose books available on OpenStax to benefit students.

Sounds like a lot, right? For the entirety of my college career and when I worked in advising for a college, I recommended the use of sites like BigWords.com who does the comparison shopping for you. It makes it easy for you to find the cheapest book combinations...it can save hundreds!


As far as starting...you basically need pen and paper or, if you are techy, a laptop. DO NOT RECORD LECTURES unless you get permission from the professor. In fact, leave your phone on silent in your bag...they know when you aren't paying attention...you aren't slick, trust me.


Good luck!


Oh, if you need accommodations because you had an IEP or 504 plan in high school, speak to an advisor or the disability office to get set up. I recommend setting up accommodations even if you don't use them that way you have the help if needed.


Quick Links

Financial Aid www.fafsa.ed.gov

Scholarships-do a Google search but places like scholarships.com or fastweb.com have them also collegeincolorado.org

Books bigwords.com

openstax.org

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