Preparing for College

Preparing for College

This is a brief overview of what high school students can do to prepare for

college and ways that parents can help with that process.

Freshman Year:

  • Discuss the value of a college education.
  • Create a space and time for your child to establish good study habits
  • Promote extended, well-paced study rather than short-term cramming.
  • Encourage your student to take an appropriately demanding academic curriculum.
  • Discuss the impact of grades and course selection on college admission.
  • Check curriculum requirements for college entrance.
  • Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities, volunteering, and internships or other work experiences.
  • Plan for college expenses…explore your savings options.

Sophomore Year:

  • Start to network with your son or daughter’s teachers and counselors.
  • Talk about his or her interests and career possibilities.
  • Begin exploring appropriate college options with your student.
  • Continue your support of extracurricular involvement and encourage participation in leadership roles.
  • Keep college correspondence in a well-organized file.

Junior Year:

  • Attend information sessions and financial aid nights sponsored by the school.
  • Assist your student in creating a list of personal interests, goals and activities which can then be used to narrow the college search.
  • Attend college fairs held at local colleges.
  • Register for and take the PSAT/NMSQT, then link scores to Khan Academy to established individualized study plans for the SAT.
  • Consult with your son or daughter’s counselor for college search ideas and advice.
  • Review all options: if a school seems too costly, find out what scholarships and other financial assistance may be available to you.
  • Your student should prepare for the ACT/SAT exams. The SAT is given to all juniors in April as part of the mandatory state testing program.
  • Find out if your student should take the Advanced Placement for SAT subject tests.
  • Network with other parents.

Summer before Senior Year:

  • Help your son or daughter sort through college mail as it arrives.
  • Review ACT/SAT results and discuss whether your student should retest.
  • Visit different types of schools: small and large, vocational and liberal arts, private and public.
  • Develop a list of questions for colleges and take them with you on your visits.

Senior Year:

  • Students should ask teachers, coaches, community leaders, counselors, etc. to write letters of recommendation well in advance of application deadlines.
  • Submit requests for transcripts in the guidance office at least two weeks before deadlines.
  • Send in applications and be aware of deadlines.
  • Follow-up to make sure that materials arrive at colleges.
  • Make additional visits and encourage your student to spend the night and attend classes at the schools that spark his or her interest.
  • Remain open-minded as the short list develops.
  • Stay positive – the search for the right school can be exhausting and stressful at times.
  • Meet deadlines when applying for merit-based scholarships and need-based assistance (for example, FAFSA).
  • Collect all of your tax information and file for financial assistance in a timely fashion (and keep copies).
  • Notify the chosen school of the final decision and send in the tuition deposit. It is also common courtesy to notify all other schools that granted acceptance.