Time to Enroll

4-year Program

Take charge of your college action steps with this checklist! Use it throughout the summer as a reminder of the steps you need to take in order to start on Day 1 fully prepared for college success.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela, political leader, revolutionary and philanthropist

Enrollment Steps

Take charge of your college action steps with this checklist! Use it throughout the summer as a reminder of the steps you need to take in order to start on Day 1 fully prepared for college success.

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  • A Student Portal is your single most important gateway to completing college enrollment tasks, accessing college staff, and connecting with student services. The portal lets you register for classes, access your financial aid and scholarships, review important messages from your college, and schedule appointments with different offices.
  • To set up and access your portal, use the specific student ID or portal activation instructions sent from your college. Usually, there is a login website where you will set up your initial access to your portal 
  • Filter by college to access your specific institution’s web page.
  • Additional resource: “Staying Connected to Your College Portal,” from EducationQuest
  • It is important that you regularly review your financial aid status and any tasks and deadlines associated with your aid.  This will help you ensure you have a sustainable plan to pay for college. 
  • There are two primary ways to check your Financial Aid status:
    • Check your financial aid on your student portal (see ‘Set up Your Student Portal)
    • Contact the Financial Aid Office at your college and set up an appointment with a Financial Aid advisor. Plan to meet with a Financial Aid advisor before you start school, and at least once each semester. The advisor can guide you through FAFSA renewal, changes in your financial situation and provide access to scholarships specific to your needs. 
  • Be sure to review each of these components of Financial Aid:
    • Financial Aid Award Letter. After you have applied for financial aid at studentaid.gov and your college has received your FAFSA information, you will receive a financial aid award letter from the college(s) you were accepted to. This letter explains the financial aid package – grants, loans, and scholarships – that the college is offering you to help pay for college, as well as the money you may owe (or gap) beyond what is offered. 
    • These letters are often confusing. You’re not alone! Listen to this  4-min news story from NPR: 
    •  Remember to ask for help. 
      • Analyze Your Financial Aid Award Letter. Use this  guide to Analyzing My Award Letter to: 
        • 1) Calculate and review your remaining costs after applying loans and gift aid
        •  2) Carefully evaluate the loans being offered by identifying total loans per year, loans for the degree, and monthly payments
        •  3) Compare institutions by financial aid packages to rank your options by financial doability and other factors that are important to you. Use this cost comparison tool from ISAC to conduct a side-by-side comparison.
        • This analysis will help you decide if you want to appeal your Financial Aid Award Letter. For example, your top choice institution may be out of reach financially given the current aid package offered – and you could appeal to the college to ask for more aid. 
      • How to Appeal Your Financial Aid Award Letter? Watch this video to understand why you would want to appeal your award letter and how to do it. 
        • Advocate for yourself and appeal your Financial Aid Award Letter if:
          • Your financial circumstances have changed
          • Your top choice school is not giving you as much aid as another institution, or;
          • You do not think the aid package offered will enable you to attend that school. 
        • Swift Student is a free resource that provides letter templates and help in writing your financial aid appeal letter.
      • You may be asked to ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ each part of the offered package in your Student Portal. You are not obligated to accept any or all of the aid offered, but you must accept portions of the aid for them to be applied to your account. 
    • Entrance Loan Counseling is a required process for receiving your federal student loans. This helps student borrowers better understand the responsibilities that you will be taking on with this federal loan. Watch this video for instructions on how to access and complete this process.
    • The Master Promissory Note is a required  legal document in which you promise to repay your federal loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees. It is a contract between you and the U.S. Department of Education that explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s). Watch this video for instructions on how to access and complete this process.
    • A Payment Plan is an agreement between you and your college for you to pay your tuition in installments instead of all at once. Often, this plan will split your college bills into equal monthly payments.
      • ALERT! Some colleges may not allow you to register for classes until you establish a payment plan. Or they may drop your classes if you don’t have a payment plant or method established in your student portal. Make sure you check what is required for your specific program.
  • Filter by college to access your specific institution’s enrollment steps.
  • Helpful links:
  • To hold your spot at your college of choice, you need to officially:
    • 1) Accept an admissions offer and 
    • 2) Pay deposit (at most colleges). This deposit is a fee (ranges from $0 to $1000)  that guarantees your sport in the incoming freshman class. 
      • Complete this NACAC Enrollment Deposit Fee Waiver and send it directly to the college if you or your family are experiencing financial hardship and need assistance with the enrollment deposit.
  • Filter by college to access your specific institution’s web page.
  • Helpful links

Visit your institution’s Housing Page for information and deadlines, and the Dining Services page for meal plans and additional info.

Housing

  • Complete any housing paperwork (including roommate preference forms)
  • Make any necessary housing deposits to hold your place at that specific dorm/apartment (typically $200-$500)
  • Bonus step: If you get your assigned roommate’s email address ahead of time, send them a note and introduce yourself to get to know them over the summer before you both arrive on campus!

Meals
Investigate how meal plans work and add them to your housing plan if needed. 

When deciding whether or not to get a meal plan (some schools require that you get a meal plan during your first year), consider:

  • Any dietary restrictions or preferences you have and if the dining halls can accommodate them.
  • Access to a kitchen – if you don’t have a kitchen, a meal plan might be right for you!
  • Your eating schedule. Dining halls have a specific schedule and so ensure it works with yours
  • Cost – it’s usually more affordable to opt out of the college meal plan
  • Convenience and preference – would you rather have to prepare your own meals and have the ease of food at home? Or not have to worry about food purchasing and preparation?
  • Filter by college
  • Helpful links
  • College Placement Tests are computerized and/or written assessment tests that check your academic skill levels as you enter college. Colleges use them in subjects like math and English to place students in right level courses. Each college has different placement test requirements, types of tests, or test recommendations. 
  • Placement tests are important  because they  also determine the level of your course placement. Sometimes these tests can place you in an advanced level course. And sometimes, the tests determine if you are placed into college-level classes right away, or if you must first take a remedial or developmental course. 
    • A developmental or remedial course is a zero credit “pre-college” level course that you do not earn credit for, but still typically uses up your financial aid the way a credit-bearing course would. 
    • The Preferred Option: A co-requisite or hybrid course often does allow you to earn some college credit, and this is the  preferred choice if you have the option!
  • Try to put in some time studying before you test. Even a few hours can make a big difference in your score!

  • By state law, colleges require you to provide proof of immunity to certain diseases/illnesses. To do this, you must provide your immunization records (and sometimes other health information) to the college recordkeeping or health office. 
  • How to get your Immunization Records? 
    • Ask your parents or caregivers if they have records of your childhood immunizations.
    • Call your doctor’s office.
    • Check with your high school or prior school/childcare provider.
    • If you cannot locate your immunization records, visit the Illinois Immunization Registry Exchange or find the corresponding state agency for the state in which you were vaccinated.
  • COVID-19 Vaccines 
    • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site for more information.
    • See Chicago.gov ‘How to get vaccinated’ website
    • Protect Chicago is a program that is working to make vaccine distribution more equitable in Chicago by getting vaccination sites and additional dedicated resources to the 15 communities hardest hit by COVID-19.
    • Your intended college may also have further guidance, vaccination sites  or requirements when it comes to being vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Filter by college
  • New Student Orientation is often a required step for enrollment. It’s a chance for students to learn how things work at their new school and meet other students as well as faculty and staff members. 
  • Orientation is important because you receive information about course registration, your student ID card, getting course materials and books, social events and support, and more. 
  • Register to attend Orientation via your Student Portal or however indicated by your college. 
  • Orientation may be virtual or in-person, depending on your college and how the state of the pandemic affects colleges’ plans. 
  • Helpful links
  • Filter by college

  • Registering for classes is key to being able to save yourself a spot in your required courses and know what books and materials you need to be able to show up on Day 1!
  • To register for classes:
    • Sign into your student account.
    • Get your financial aid in order.
    • Meet with your academic advisor.
    • Sign up for your classes.
    • NOTE: in order to be considered a full time student and receive your full financial aid award, you must be enrolled in 15 credit hours per semester
  • Helpful links

Final Preparation for a Strong Start to College

  • Send your final High School transcript(s) to your college
  • If you took a dual credit course in high school, contact the college and request a transcript for the class you took so that you get your college credit applied to the school at which you are enrolling in the fall.
  • Schedule regular appointments with your Academic Advisor
  • Schedule regular appointments with your Financial Aid Advisor
  • Check out the Preparation Toolkit section of this site to work out your Day 1 Logistics: transportation, logistics, supplies (laptops, course materials, etc), and moving plans.
  • Update your High School Counselor on your college plans and make this update in Naviance. See “Who’s in my corner?” and filter by high school.
  • Identify your campus contact – your go-to person at your college who can answer your questions (maybe the Admissions Officer who has been reaching out to you!)
  • Build your support system by finding the departments, programs, and support services that will help you succeed. These include:
    • Your campus contact(s): See “Who’s in my corner?” and filter by college.
    • The tutoring center
    • The advising center
    • Clubs and networks for those with shared identities, interests, or circumstances

Still confused?

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