Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Education Tips: Getting Your Child Ready for College During Their Senior Year

"Education Tips: Getting Your Child Ready for College During Their Senior Year”

As we speak, high school graduations across the United States are being planned or are waiting to happen. Now, the juniors are poised to take their place as the mighty seniors. While being a senior is a cool thing, the question emerges as to whether they are ready to take their rightful place in the college of their choice in one year’s time.

For parents, they begin to panic early. For some reason around this time of year, many parents look at their child across the table and think: “Oh my, he is going to be a senior this coming year. We aren’t ready for this!”

Parents, don't panic! Here are some education tips you may want to discuss with your soon-to-be seniors before you totally panic. Plus, you parents who have students transitioning from 8th grade to 9th ought to listen up because it would be wise for you to begin thinking about these things now and begin working on them right away.

Scholarships/Financial Aid—Most, if not all, parents worry about financial aid because the cost of a college education increases every single year. Every college and university has financial aid available to their students. The key to success is starting out early to make sure you understand what this all entails. Begin by checking with your child’s high school counselor. Almost weekly, they receive scholarship updates from a plethora of sources, including colleges and universities. You may even want your child to check with the counselor on a weekly basis. Additionally, contact the various colleges your child is interested in. All colleges now have websites that focus on scholarships. Be acutely aware of the financial deadlines and meet them. There is nothing more depressing than missing a deadline for a scholarship that had your child’s name written all over it. Also, check around your community for scholarships your child might be eligible for. You might be surprised what your local credit union, bank, farmer’s organization, community foundations and clubs, employer, etc. have available for their local students. Check out websites like and sign up. Be proactive. If your child wants to go to college, then having the money to go is imperative.

Classes—Visit with the high school counselor to make sure your child has earned the appropriate credits for the classes he or she may have taken. Every state and almost every school have varying graduation requirements. If you have moved from one state to the next, checking with your local school is imperative. Additionally, if your child is taking dual-credit or dual-enrollment courses that earn him or her college credit, be sure they finish these courses and are transcripted. You will be amazed how much money you will save if your child does not have to take them in college. Encourage your child to do the best he or she can during the senior year because it really does count in the long run.

ACT/SAT—By the beginning of a senior year, most high school juniors have already taken the ACT or SAT. If not, you will need to schedule one as soon as you can. Most high schools can do the scheduling for you. If a student feels he or she has not done the best, he or she can take it over again. Be sure, though, to review the scores of the last ACT/SAT test and study those areas in order to enhance the score. But if you miss the deadlines, many colleges have alternative assessments that your child can take to determine whether he or she is eligible to attend. Check with your college to determine what that assessment might be.

Four-year college or two-year college—For some, choosing between a four-and a two-year college may not be an issue. For parents on a budget, the choice may be more acute. Four-year colleges and universities tend to cost more in the short and in the long run. Two-year colleges or community colleges are historically less expensive. Your financial aid package may determine which school to go to. Some parents may believe that community colleges are inferior to a four-year college. The good news is community college students do as well as or even better than their four-year counterparts at the four-year institution once they graduate. Do not rule out community colleges. But do make sure that you check out the financial aid packages and the transferability of the credits of both institutions. Bottom line, though, hinges on choosing the best college for your son or daughter.

Community service—This is a big one. Many scholarships—maybe even most of them—require students to participate in community service throughout their high school careers. Thankfully, community service is easy to achieve because there are numerous community and church organizations that need help from young people. The best thing to do is start in the 8th or 9th grade and develop a community service model for your child. Showing a long-term commitment to one or two organizations is a good thing. Obtaining two or three hours here and there demonstrates that the child is not too committed to doing consistent community services. Plus, when young people perform community services, they usually impress their supervisors of the directors of the project. In the long run, they will be able to solicit a letter of recommendation from these people when applying for scholarships or college admissions to the college of their choice. Maybe even more important, some of these volunteer opportunities may translate into future jobs, either during the summer months or even when the student graduates from college. The most important thing is that students choose community service opportunities for which they have interest.

Grades—The fact of the matter is this: grades are important, no matter what anyone says. If students do not do well in their classes, they may end up having to enroll in remedial course in college. These remedial courses still cost money; they do not apply toward graduation; and they may impede graduating on time. Students must always attempt to do well in their coursework. If they are struggling, parents, be sure to obtain a tutor or meet with the teacher to make sure your student is doing everything possible to earn good grades.

Internships—Even in high school, students can opt for internships, either paid or unpaid. In fact, more and more high schools are helping their students capture prime internships. Internships help students experience a potential career, develop real-life skills, learn how to work with others, and demonstrate to the organization what skills they do have. Overall, internships in high school and college can only help students gain greater insight into themselves and what they might be good at doing.

College visits—It is always a good idea to know something about the college or university you are going to attend. Often, though, a college visit may not be feasible because of the distance from your home. Colleges know that. Thus, they have developed incredible virtual tours and information videos for students. Take advantage of them. Additionally, colleges and universities can schedule live chat sessions with counselors, students, and administrators. They will accommodate your schedules. Ultimately, students need to determine if they are going to be a good fit.

Overall, parents, it is not too late to begin the process. Try not to feel stressed or anxious. There are way too many avenues to obtain the information you need. You may want to start with your child’s high school counselor or a counselor or admissions representative at the local college or university. Do not be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions. If you do, you and your child will be prepared for the senior year and beyond.


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