How College Works…A Beginner’s Guide

May 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you have no clue about the process of attending college, grab some note taking gear and prepare for some insider tricks and tips.

College calendars aren’t necessarily from January to December. They go by semesters. Each college school year is made up of three semesters, Spring (Jan.-May), Summer (June-July), and Fall (Aug. – Dec.). Generally, a college will consider the Fall Semester as the beginning of the year, much like high school and below. When you decide to attend college, you are going to have to register, or sign up, for courses. Registration is usually a week or two before the start of that semester. Let’s say the first day of class for the Fall Semester is August 15. Then, the “registration period” to get into that class will usually be from August 1 to the 14th. By the end of that “registration period”, you are expected to have completed everything necessary to attend class. What is necessary? Read on my friend…

There are three possibly four areas you have to take care of as you register, Admissions, Testing, Financial Aid and Housing. Let’s take a look at each one separately.

Admissions: You have to apply for admission before anything else. You can usually find the application online at that college’s website. If you are not too comfortable with the online world, you still have the option of picking up an application at the Admissions Office. Keep in mind, every college will ask you to turn in transcripts, whether it be from High School or any other college courses you may have taken.

Testing: Every college needs to have a test score for you. Whether it be the SAT, ACT, THEA, or Accuplacer, you will need to test in order to enroll. Don’t freak out if you don’t pass a test, it does NOT mean you will not get in. Most tests are to see whether or not you will have to take extra courses to refresh your skills in certain subjects. Here’s a side note, you are going to come across the acronym TSI. 99 out of 100 students don’t know what that means. TSI stands for the Texas Success Initiative. You are considered TSI complete if you reached a certain score on the tests mentioned above, or you have finished any remedial courses (those refresher courses I mentioned) you needed.

Financial Aid: You have to pay for your education, so a very feasible option for you is applying for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The majority of students that apply, especially in south Texas, will be awarded this grant. That means you won’t have to pay anything back, unlike a loan. You can apply online at, or visit the Financial Aid Office at the college you plan on attending. Keep in mind that you can enroll without paying a dime up front, but after a certain date when classes start, if you haven’t paid the tuition, you will be deregistered.

Housing: This is not a mandatory area for enrollment. Some students opt to stay with family or friends, others would rather live on campus at the campus dorms. If you fall into that category, you need to apply for Housing. Each college has different requirements for housing, so you want to check with the Housing/Dorm Department of that college for more information. Typically, you will be looking at $600 for the semester, which isn’t too bad considering your bills are usually paid by the school.

Those are the basics of getting into college. Remember, each college varies slightly, so you want to check with an Academic Advisor at that college to make sure you have everything taken care of. It’s their job to see that you get what you need and are pointed in the right direction. Have fun experiencing a new side of life!


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