While your child’s high school will likely have a huge role in planning and preparing your child for college, keep in mind that a parent’s role is just as critical to a child’s success. The sooner you start encouraging your child to put their college education at the top of their list of priorities, the more prepared they will feel when it comes time to narrow down their search and apply to college. However, this is all easier said than done, so we have complied a list of action items you need to keep your child motivated and on track:
College Preparation Checklist
1. Be Informed & Involved
For many students, applying to college can be a stressful time in their lives. However, you can help to alleviate some of that pressure. Start by fostering a supportive environment at home and doing some of your own hands-on research. By attending college fairs and introducing yourself to your child’s school counselor, you will have better insight into what your child needs in order to be considered for acceptance. You’ll also gain a better understanding of what you can do to help keep them on track. Once you have completed the initial research, encourage your child to do the following in order to meet college requirements and differentiate themselves from other candidates:
- Enroll in challenging courses: advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate courses
- If it’s early enough in the game, take the PSAT, if it’s junior or senior year take or retake the ACT or SAT
- Tour college campuses: aim to talk to professors or other students to get a real sense of the campus community
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): to be considered for federal and school financial aid
2. Set Expectations
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the tasks you’re responsible for, it may be beneficial to create a parent and student action plan to delegate responsibilities. An action plan also helps to ensure that your child never forgets an important task or deadline while in the midst of balancing schoolwork, extracurriculars and college-prep. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of pieces to the college puzzle you both will need to remember and nothing says ‘stay on task’ more than delegated responsibilities and checking important things off your child’s plate.
Many students will be tempted to put their academics on hold once they have applied to college. While your child has worked diligently to prepare for their college career, one of the biggest mistakes they can make is to let ‘senioritis‘ get the best of them. Even if your child was an all-star student throughout their high school career, it could potentially hurt their chances of acceptance if they slip. Colleges pay close attention to performance even after they have received an application, making it critical for your child to stay on track long after they submit their applications. Setting this expectation will not only help your child get into a desired school and program, it will set them up for success all throughout their college career.
3. Earning College Credit in High School
If your child is preparing for college they should be looking for unique ways to challenge themselves academically. One of the benefits of applying to college today is having a realm of opportunities available to help your child feel more college-ready. Encourage your child to research ways in which they can earn college credit in high school such as, a pre-college program. A pre-college program may provide your child with an opportunity to earn college credit and demonstrate academic readiness to college admissions.
Speak with your child’s school counselor in their junior or senior year to see what options are available and open to high school students.
4. Making the Transition from High School to College
Fostering open communication with your child is not only essential for planning for college but can help open up discussions for any concerns such as moving away to college. You also want to ensure that your child enrolls in a college program that will be fulfilling both academically and socially. Opening an initial conversation about continuing education beyond high school, as well as your child’s goals and aspirations will help them to feel supported long after they begin their first year at college. During the transition it’s important to continue setting expectations and exploring opportunities for growth, like studying abroad. With these tips and adjustments in responsibility you should feel more confident supporting your child’s path to college.