September 1, 2017

Is Your Child Ready for College?

Four years of high school go by in the wink of an eye. I know from experience, as a high school principal. Those students who enter so young and nervous in the 9th grade are shaking hands and being handed diplomas, seemingly faster than a roller coaster plunges from its summit to its descent.

Time does fly when your child is having fun, and learning too! So, how can you ensure that by the beginning of 12th grade, your child is ready not only for the college application process but for college itself? What steps can you take to make certain that college will be a successful four years?  Read on to learn a bit more.

Encourage Their Academic Interests

Take a look at what they are taking right from the start of 9th grade. Is their schedule too challenging? Not challenging enough? Talk with their counselor about what classes are best for your child and then monitor which classes they seem to enjoy the most.

What is your high school student most passionate about? This could give you a clue as to what they should focus on in college and in a career.

What are your children talking about at the dinner table; their science lab or their English project? It might be, at times, an effort to listen to every detail, but those key details may help you gain insight into your child’s academic strengths and interests. From there, it will become easier to guide them toward a college major that will bring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Being able to help your child get a sense of who he or she wants to become will help make college easier as well.

Begin College Research Early

Do some research yourself and start early. What colleges would you like to see your child apply to for admission? How far are you willing to let them go?  How much can you invest and how much will be covered by loans?

Having the answers to these questions ready, long before your child even asks, will allow him or her to see that you are being proactive about the future and that you are committed to his or her academic success.

College… Vacation?

The last thing you want to do in the fall of 12th grade is to constantly be taking your child out of school to visit a college campus. Even one day out during that pivotal semester may be one day too many, especially considering the course load most seniors carry.

Save those senior year “college days” for on-campus interviews. Do your visits beforehand; starting in the summer of 9th grade. Are you headed on a family vacation? See what college towns and campuses you can visit on the way to and from the vacation destination!

Unlike high schools, colleges are open all summer and a campus tour can be arranged. You can also get the feel of the town or city that the college or university is located in and get a sense of the climate and culture of the campus as well.

Plan to visit three to four colleges every summer and by the time senior year comes, you may have seen 16 different potential colleges! Take pictures when you visit; it will help you keep the visits fresh in your mind for the following years.

Find out What Tests Your Child Needs to Take

Investigate what standardized tests and other academic requirements the colleges and universities are looking for from your child. Engage him or her in test prep classes or seminars, encourage activities and athletics and support your child in these ventures. Purchase at least one for each of the three years leading up to 12th grade and give your own nightly “homework.” Having your child complete a page or two each night may seem like torture, both to your child and to you when you have to reinforce the practice, but it will truly pay off in the end.

There is no better example of “practice makes perfect” then the use of test prep books to prepare for the SAT and ACT tests. The more your child reviews, the more prepared they will be.

Monitor That Schedule!

We all know that schools will look for the basics: four years of English and Math, three to four years of History and Science. It’s in the realm of electives that things can get tricky.

Does your child plan to study math, science, engineering or medicine? Then you may not want to sign off on three or four years of art or music in high school; a semester would suffice. Instead, look for extra math classes, science electives or even business or computer classes to round out the transcript.

Is your child on a creative track? Then don’t force extra science or AP Calculus; encourage them to take Dance, Theatre, or other fine arts classes along with their academic subjects.

The transcript is a testament to the academic areas in which your child excels and it does, to an extent, reflect on what their strong subject areas will be during college. Make sure it is approved not just by your child, but by you as well.


Finally and perhaps most importantly, talk frankly to your child about why college is so important. Break down costs for them of owning a home, a car, and supporting a family. Ask them what their plans are for their future and how they will make that happen. Without a college degree, it will be very difficult to accomplish some dreams.

Write Away!

Keeping your child’s ability to express him or herself in writing is also a great way to prepare for college essay writing. Encourage your child to keep a journal, even if they only write two to three sentences a day. When searching for college essay topics, they may come across just the inspiration they need in looking back on the past!

As you can see, these simple techniques will help both you and your child become ready for all that is to come! Good luck!

The four years after high school graduation will provide many opportunities to shape your student’s life for years to come. If you believe that they can succeed, they will believe it too.

Does your child know what major best first their personality? Have them take Majors Matcher.

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