It’s time to look ahead to the college years. The four years of high school go by very quickly, and the whole college application process is overwhelming. Don’t let it sneak up on you! Here are a few tips to help guide your teen toward college admission.
1. Be in contact with the school your teen attends. Relationships with your teen’s teachers and counselors are critical now. Although parents tend to step back during the high school years, there is too much at stake for a hands-off approach.
• You should read all the school’s policies so you can help keep your teen from any attendance or discipline problems. Problems here can show up in the college application information.
• Contact your teen’s teachers regularly. They can help identify academic problems early on, and talking with teachers can also help you monitor homework and projects to keep your teen on track with grades. Teachers will also be writing recommendations for your teen.
• Visit your teen’s guidance counselor. S/he has lots of information about your teen, about colleges that fit your teen, and about all that goes into the process of college application.
2. Be organized! Although you should not do the work for your teen, all that is involved with an application to college would be hard for an adult to handle, let alone a teenager.
• Read all the college catalogues that come to you. Find out about requirements for a college, deadlines, contacts, and costs.
• Gather information from the high school guidance office about college testing. Find out about dates, how often to take the tests, where you might get test tutoring, and costs.
• Develop a filing system to keep information on hand for re-checking, and create a calendar with to-do list dates and important deadlines.
3. Be realistic and calm. These are hard times for both you and your teen. Neither of you knows what to expect, and there are a lot of changes ahead for you both.
• Know there will be blow-ups from stress. Do not be surprised and be ready to handle it calmly and help diffuse emotions.
• Prepare both yourself and your teen for rejection. It is bound to happen at least once. Make sure you can put this in perspective and direct your teen forward.
• Discuss money. Decide beforehand what you can afford to pay for college. Be definite about how much you expect your teen to contribute. Talk about extras and unforeseen expenses so you and your teen can plan on realistic costs of an education beyond room and board and tuition.
These tips are meant to guide your teen. As a parent your job is to support, not to do for your teen. Do not over parent. Also do not push your teen. This is a journey for both of you, but remember when your teen is invested s/he is most likely to succeed when applying to college.