School vacations can be an excellent time for high school seniors and their parents to get a head start on the college application process—you can focus on finding the right college without balancing the responsibilities of schoolwork and extracurriculars. Fortunately, there is a new tool that serves as a free and simple college planning guide for all students, while giving them a chance to win scholarships for each step they take.
The College Board Opportunity Scholarships support students and families on the path to college by laying out six steps of what to do and when to do it. The program launched in December for the class of 2020. Completing each step will earn a chance for a scholarship; completing all six will earn students a chance to win $40,000 for their college education. Here’s what you can do now to save time later:
- Build Your College List—Get started by exploring colleges you’re interested in and create a list of at least six schools.
- Practice for the SAT—Use Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy to get ready for test day.
- Improve Your Score—Show how practice pays off by improving your SAT score. You can sign up to take the SAT on August 24 before school starts.
- Strengthen Your College List—Add to your college list and make sure it’s a mix of academic safety, fit, and reach schools.
- Complete the FAFSA—Fill out the free government form to apply for financial aid.
- Apply to Colleges—Apply to the schools you want to attend.
To be eligible for the $40,000 scholarships, students in the class of 2020 must sign up for the program and complete the Build Your College List steps by June 30.
The College Board Opportunity Scholarships are about how much you grow, not how high you score. The program doesn’t require an essay, application, a minimum GPA or a minimum SAT score. Instead, the program rewards all students’ efforts and actions on their way to college. The more effort you put in and actions you complete, the more chances you have to earn a college scholarship.
The College Board is investing $25 million over five years. The class of 2020 will earn a total of 4,000 scholarships for $5 million by the time the program ends for them in March 2020. A total of 1,025 scholarships, amounting to $850,000, have been given to date. Winners have come from 42 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Students can sign up at www.CB.org/Opportunity. The program opens to the class of 2021 in December 2019.