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Get ready to return to school in 2015

Remember to get organized before hitting the books.

Keeping track of all of your paperwork will make the application process smoother.Stockbyte

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to finally finish (or start) your college degree? Congrats, that's a big step. Here are some tips for making sure you have all of the information you need well before deadline.

Do some soul searching: When you picture your dream career, what do you see? Do you like working with children? With food? In a scientific field? Having a clear goal will make finding (and finishing) a degree easier. It's also a good idea to start informally interviewing friends and relatives in careers you are interested in to get a good sense of what a day in your dream job is like.

Start going to open houses: The new year is often the season for open houses and campus visits. See if you can sit in on a class, and remember to talk to currently enrolled students so that you can get the inside story. Added bonus: Some colleges waive certain application fees if you attend an open house.

Research testing dates: Does your program require you to take the SATs or other standardized exams? It's also a good idea to see if the schools on your list have their own math or writing exams that they administer to prospective students.

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Order your old transcripts: If you are a returning student, it's important to figure out which of your credits will transfer. Ordering transcripts and gathering recommendation letters can take awhile, so it's good to start the process early.

Research tuition reimbursement: Does your current company have any sort of tuition reimbursement program? School is much less stressful when somebody else is footing at least part of the bill. Do your financial aid homework Remember to fill out the FAFSA and other aid forms accurately. Be sure to also look into any academic scholarships you could apply to.

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

 
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