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Parent's Guide To College Prep

Parent's Guide To College Prep


Like every parent, you want what's best for your child, and for most of us, that means higher education. Higher education provides your child with the widest variety of opportunities and job options in the future, and it will also help them learn valuable life skills along the way. Once your child is accepted to college, it may feel for a few moments like your job is done. In fact, it's just beginning. Success is not guaranteed, but the right preparation can slant the odds in your favor!

College will be an entirely new educational experience for your child, with different expectations and an unfamiliar new environment, especially if your child will be living away from home for the first time. That's why advance preparation is crucial when your kids are preparing to make this great transition. As a parent, you have an important role in helping your child prepare physically and emotionally for the adventure up ahead. Keep in mind that there's no "correct" level of involvement in your child's preparation process. You know your child better than anyone else, so you're in the best position to understand their individual needs, and how you can help them. However, all students benefit from parental support during this transition period. If you can't afford an expensive college prep program or counselor, you can be the helping hand your child needs to succeed.

Let's look at some ways to help your children prepare for their next big step.

Start Early
As a parent, you have an important role in helping your child prepare physically and emotionally for the adventure up ahead.

Students' preparations may differ depending on their interests and intended fields of study, but early planning is always essential. College planning can begin as early as ninth grade! High school students can start up their preparations by building a solid academic record, getting involved in extracurricular activities, scoring well on standardized tests, and understanding the admissions process ahead of time. Parents can help by providing support and lending a hand every step of the way.

Provide A Healthy Home Environment

All children deserve a healthy home environment that is conducive to learning. This resource comes in even more handy to teens busy getting ready for college. As a parent, you can help provide this. Start by making sure your child has a suitable study space at home. This space should include a desk and a chair, have good lighting, and plenty of fresh air. Clutter provides distraction and "mental noise," so be sure to remind your child to keep their space tidy. Students who get used to a clean, organized workspace in high school are more likely to carry that habit into their higher education, where it will be even more important.


The food you prepare at home can also affect your child's preparations. That's because dietary choices directly impact memory and energy levels. Steer clear of high calorie, high sugar, low nutrient snacks for your child and instead opt for healthy, natural alternatives. Remember, if you feed your child's brain, you are also nourishing their future. You're also building good eating habits that your child is likely to retain down the line. It's good to go beyond just serving good food. Engage your child in food shopping and preparation, and have discussions about nutrition and its impact on both health and budgeting.

As a parent, you can provide your child with the basic resources they need to succeed. With a healthy diet at home and a suitable place to study, your child will be in a much better position to excel academically than if they were working in unsuitable conditions and regularly eating unhealthy food.

Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Encourage your high school student to get involved with activities outside of school that excite their interest. Building a strong extracurricular profile looks good on future college applications and makes a considerable contribution to your child's personal development. Extracurricular activities help enhance your child's knowledge and their social skills, which will be vital when they enter the college environment. It's a win-win! Many students continue their high school extracurricular activities in college, which provides them with a valuable social outlet and a productive diversion from academic work.

Build Good Financial Habits

For many young people, college represents a new level of personal financial responsibility, as they take control over many spending and saving decisions that used to be in your hands. Handling money is a learned skill, and most schools don't teach it! You can help by introducing the concepts of budgeting, saving, and planning, letting your child experience control over their money early, monitoring the way they use it, and giving guidance where necessary. Summer jobs are a great way to build an understanding of earning and spending. Any young person who will hold a credit card needs to learn the basics of credit, debt, interest, and credit scores before they get that plastic in their hands. We all make mistakes when we start out but stepping straight into a major credit card debt adventure is a mistake to avoid!

Go Along on School Visits

College visits don't need to wait until application season of your child's senior year. In fact, you can and should conduct them at any stage of your child's high school career. The earlier you accompany your child on visits to places where they might wish to study, the better understanding they will have of the range of options out there and what type of establishment would best suit them. If they've already experienced several different environments, they can make an informed decision about whether a large state university or a smaller, more intimate setting would be best for their future educational and career aspirations.

Know Your Child's Guidance Counselor

Your child's school guidance counselor plays a vital role in their college preparations, and parents need to know them personally. It's essential for you to cultivate a healthy relationship with your child's guidance counselor because together the two of you will help your child navigate the application process. If your child sees you have formed a good bond with their guidance counselor, they too will feel comfortable reaching out for advice. This kind of warm, friendly familiarity is very valuable to your child because these counselors can provide invaluable and impartial help in selecting schools and majors.