CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis High School seniors Jennifer Chavez, left, and Chelsea Morse do research for their first year of college Wednesday at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.
Seniors spend about half of their free time during their last year of high school preparing for the first year of college.
At least they do if they’re dedicated, Clovis High School senior Jennifer Chavez said.
Chavez and friend and fellow CHS senior Chelsea Morse have taken their college entrance exams and applied to their colleges of choice.
Chavez will be attending the University of New Mexico and studying dentistry. Morse will be attending Eastern New Mexico University and studying music education. Now they’re spending time finding money to pay for college.
Chavez said there were several scholarships with deadlines in December and she had just finished that batch when she found another set with deadlines in February. Chavez said she filed her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early.
Morse hasn’t filed her FAFSA yet, but will have it done by mid February, the date CHS counselors are pushing as a deadline to ensure seniors have applied for any kind of financial aid.
CHS Head Counselor Pam Cornelison said that it’s important for students to apply for financial help by mid February because it’s a first-come, first-served process.
“Each college only gets a certain amount of money. To get a piece of the pie, you have to be one of the early birds,” Cornelison said.
Cornelison said the high school is holding a workshop Feb. 17 to help parents and students fill out financial aid forms.
“By this point, seniors should have already taken college entrance exams but if they haven’t, they need to be taking it in February and March,” she said. “We are already working on our juniors to take the entrance exams for the first time.”
There is a test date scheduled for the SAT on Feb. 12 and the registration deadline is Jan. 21. The ACT has a test scheduled for March 12 and the registration deadline is Feb. 11.
Cornelison said that she suggests that students take both exams and retake whichever they score higher on. She said that statistics show that more literary people score higher on the SAT and more math and science oriented students score higher on the ACT.
“But I’ve seen it go different ways,” she said. “It’s an individual thing.”
By this point in the school year, seniors have already finalized their credits to make sure they have enough to graduate.
“We’re just making sure everybody has their ducks in a row for May 21,” Cornelison said.
Chavez and Morse said that because the senior counselor has 389 seniors to help, it’s been up to them to make sure they get everything done.
“You have to be willing to drive yourself through it all,” Chavez said.
She said that most students don’t realize how quickly a deadline can sneak up on them.
“It’s important to get everything in on time,” Chavez said. “You want to seem determined and willing to have things in on time.”
Morse said getting everything shows that you’re worth getting into the college or program you’re applying to.