First Year Steps to Success


What should I do to ensure that my transition to college is easy and successful?

The process of preparing for, applying to and transitioning into college can seem complicated and become frustrating for many. To help you clearly understand what is expected of you, we have created a list of steps that will help you successfully and easily start your higher education at the College of Forestry.


These steps are split into three chronological periods:



When you are a Freshman, Sophomore, or Junior in high school

This period encompasses your freshman, sophomore, and junior years at high school. Your focus during these years is to develop your skills, knowledge, and interests, so that you will be prepared for college coursework and present yourself as a desirable student to admissions and scholarship committees.


  1. Keep your grades up. Although it may not seem important to do so in high school, your high school GPA plays a large role in whether you are admitted to OSU and how much, if any, money you receive from scholarships. Up-to-date admission requirments can be found on the OSU Admissions page.
  2. Choose classes that are more difficult. By taking more difficult classes in high school, you can prepare yourself for the higher standards expected of students in college and build a better base of knowledge, allowing you to understand new material with greater ease and perhaps to start in more advanced classes from the beginning.
  3. Search for potential scholarships. Even if you are not a senior in high school, it is a good idea to understand beforehand what scholarships exist that you are eligible to receive. Having a list of potential scholarships will reduce the amount of stress that normally occurs when a student is both finishing their high school education and applying for admission to colleges. A few places to start with might be the College of Forestry scholarships page and the OSU scholarships page.
  4. Job shadows and interviews. Most people don't know exactly what they would like to do for a job, especially when they are in high school. A great way to learn what you do and do not like is by job shadowing; you can get a sense of the what the position is like and then decide whether it really is something you would like to do. Also, by doing interviews (even if they are mock interviews), you can strengthen your skills at providing a great first impression to a potential employer - practice makes perfect! For tips on interviewing, check out the OSU Career Services page on it!
  5. Volunteer. Just like job shadowing, volunteering can give you great sense of the opportunities and workings of different industries. Volunteering has other benefits, too: it looks great on resumes because it shows commitment to community and it can "put your foot in the door" at some businesses for future employment. If they have a position open that you have been doing voluntarily, it can be desirable to hire the person who is already trained and familiar with the work (and has a familiar face!).
  6. Take a PSAT or two. It may not be time for you to take the SAT (a standardized test for college admission) but you should consider taking a preliminary SAT (PSAT) to gauge how well you might do on the actual SAT and whether you need practice in certain areas. Like your GPA, a high SAT score not only helps you be admitted to college but can also help you be awarded quality scholarships.
  7. Create a resume and a record of awards. Whether applying for a job or a scholarship, you will regularly be asked to produce one in your college career and beyond; learning how to create a resume and keeping it up to date will save you time and frustration in the future. Also, be sure to keep track of awards you are given; although some may seem insignificant to you, they will paint a picture of your successes and involvement to a potential employer or scholarship committee. For tips on writing a resume, check out the OSU Career Services page on it!


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When you are a Senior in high school

Once you’ve reached your senior year of high school, you should begin the application process at the college of your choice (in this case, the College of Forestry). This is also the time to apply for the scholarships, and, if you followed the previous section, you should already have solid list of them at hand.


  1. Read instructions thoroughly. When you begin to apply for college, scholarships, and everything else that comes with, it is extremely important that you read the instructions. You don't want to be passed over for a scholarship because you didn't cross a t or dot an i.
  2. Apply for scholarships. If you've already been looking at potential scholarships, now is the time to start applying like crazy. There are a lot of scholarships out there and the more you apply for, the better your chances at receiving the money you need. Oregon State University and the College of Forestry each have their own scholarship pages that can help you find potential scholarships at the University. If you're an Oregon resident, you should also visit the Oregon Student Access Commission page to learn how to apply for more than four-hundred scholarships.
  3. Fill out the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education and is required for most student loans. You can also be eligible for federal grants and work-study funds by completing a FAFSA.
  4. Draft letters of intent. No one writes perfectly the first time around and the best writing is the product of repeated proofreading and editing. Take time to outline your letter of intent and application essays, give them to your teachers and others to read over, and craft a quality application. For reference, you can see the OSU Admissions Application Worksheets if you don't want to start your online application just yet.
  5. Take the SAT and/or ACT – early. OSU requires an SAT or ACT score for admission, but it's important for you to not wait until the last minute. These scores also play a large role in the awarding of certain scholarships; if you take your test early, you will have chances to improve your score and improve your chances of scholarship money. Your high school counselor should be able to provide with the dates of upcoming SAT exams in your area.
  6. Cure your senioritis. By the last semester of high school, you might be tempted to take it easy and slack off in classes, especially if you've already been accepted in to college. Yet, OSU and many other colleges require final transcripts from your high school and many students have lost their admission and scholarships to poor academic perfomance. For more information, read the CollegeBoard page on senioritis and make sure that you've immunized yourself against its harmful effects.


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Once you have been accepted

Although it may be tempting to think you are done once you have received that acceptance letter in the mail, there are plenty of steps left.  New students will have to register and attend an informational START session, provide additional records and a deposit to the university, and prepare for a new lifestyle.


  1. Pay your ATDThe Advanced Tuition Deposit (ATD) is a $200.00 deposit towards your first term tuition that allows for OSU to prepare for your arrival and confirms your intent to attend classes here. You must have your ATD payed before you attend a START session and register for classes, so be sure to do this as soon as you have decided to attend OSU.
  2. Register for a START session. Every new student at OSU must attend a START session, which provides orientation and advising, before they register for classes. START sessions fill quickly and the sooner you complete your session, the better chance that the classes you need to register for will still have open spots. So be sure to sign up for the earliest START session you can!
  3. Send OSU your immunization records. Oregon State Law requires students to be immunized against measles, rubella, and mumps before registering for classes, so be sure to 1) receive immunization shots for these diseases and to 2) send proof of your immunization to the Student Health Services at OSU. 
  4. Send OSU your final transcripts. Even though you have been accepted, you will still need to send OSU your final transcripts to prove that you still meet admission requirements. Just make sure that your high school will be sending them to OSU after you complete your final semester!
  5. Check out OSU residence halls and complete your UHDS application. OSU requires all incoming freshman students to stay in a residence hall for their first year on campus with few exceptions. Since you most likely will not be an exception, you should check out each of the residence halls on campus and see which one best fits you. Also, fill out your UHDS application and set your roommate preferences; you'll be living with them for the next nine months.
  6. Continue applying for scholarships! Ah yes, scholarships, again. You should really be applying for scholarships all the time (unless you have what you need). So continue to search, apply for, and search for more, to make sure you're on solid financial ground.
  7. Make a list of things you will need to be a successful, independent college student. When you come to college, you are going to be mostly independent. Be sure that you bring what you need to do so: a computer, bedding, basic hygienic supplies, clothing, food, entertainment, etc. You'll be here for the next nine months and you should make sure that you can make your room a home away from home in the meantime. For more information on what to and what not to bring, check the UHDS list page.


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