shaun-85It’s a new year, a new semester, and a new opportunity to make good on those long-contemplated New Year’s resolutions! As I begin the second semester of my sophomore year in college, I’m beginning to realize that I won’t be in school forever; there is a Real World out there, and it’s about time to begin thinking about where I will fit in it. My resolution this year is to develop more clearly defined career aspirations and tailor my classes and extracurricular involvement to support these goals. I have always been interested in economic development, and I am now hoping to apply the economic and language skills that I have to advances in national policy, particularly in the area of education. I am also beginning to explore the possibility of participating in the Teach for America program after my undergraduate career. As I continue to take classes and gain more real-world understanding of the different sectors of economic development, I hope to narrow down my objectives for life after college. This year, I will push myself to take advantage of the opportunities I have to explore these possibilities.

For those of you who are current seniors in high school, you have just wrapped up the formal application process to college, so congratulations! Don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA by the deadlines required by the college admissions offices of the schools that you have applied to. Some schools also require the CSS Profile, which goes more into depth and may help you receive extra aid. While I was a tour guide with the Washington and Lee admissions office this summer, I always heard the admissions officers say that our school has an incredible amount of aid to give to students; however, if students don’t apply by the deadline, they may have missed out on a massive amount of financial help. So mark your calendars, and stay on top of the financial aid schedule! You are just months away from attending the school of your dreams.

When you do receive your financial aid packages, I cannot stress enough that you read through them extremely carefully. Note the differences between subsidized and unsubsized loans, realize that you can accept only some parts of an offered package, and take into account extra costs like travel and books that the university may not mention explicitly. In one of my posts last year called “Paying for Your Dream School,” I explained more in depth my experience with the financial aid process.

You’re so close to having it all! Congratulations for making it this far. Keep it up and make the best of this new year!