Helping Your Student Prepare For College
High school is a busy but fun time for students. They are working hard to do well in school, keep up with their social lives, continue their extracurricular activities, and begin planning for the future. While high school may seem like a busy and stressful time in your kids lives, it is important that they begin to think about college and making plans.
Many students don’t think about college until junior year of high school, and don’t start making plans until senior year. This puts a lot of pressure on them during their last and most important year of high school. Planning their entire future in the span of a few months is stressful and can cause them to rush to a decision.
Preparing for college is a matter of preference, some students may begin the minute they get into high school and other may wait until the last second. There are students who have had their future college picked out for years, before even reaching high school. While planning for college has no right or wrong answer, at Resurrection Christian School we believe that preparation can help students be more successful and hopefully save them some stress. We offer college prep to our students—covering everything from writing resumes or college essays to building a portfolio, ensuring your student if as prepared as possible.
While we offer a college prep class that will help your students in many different areas, there are things you can do at home to help your students get ready for the next chapter of their lives. Whether you start planning early or wait until their senior year is up to you, but we believe that an early start can help your student make the right decision. Forbes features an article stating that children should start preparing for college in sixth grade. While this would help your child be more prepared than just about any other student, it would also not allow your child to be a kid while they have the chance. But again, it is about preference.
A previous blog described how to prepare your recent graduate for college, in this blog, we will go over some of the things you and your child can do to start preparing for college, starting in ninth grade.
Many students don’t begin thinking about college in ninth grade, but those who do are ahead of the game and will be more prepared when the time comes to make decisions. Your kids aren’t going to start applying for colleges, writing essays, or anything else like that in ninth grade, but there are things they can do to get a headstart on their future.
Colleges like to see student’s involvement in the school and in extracurricular activities. Many students think that their grades and the level of the classes they took are the only things that colleges care about, but they want to see that they had a healthy social life as well. Being involved in clubs, sports, and other groups will be fun for your kid and helps them when the time comes to apply to college. Even getting involved in the community and volunteering can look good on a college resume, plus it can make your student feel fulfilled.
Exploring different classes is another great way to prepare. Not only can students take classes that may help them find their passion and future career options, but it can also look good for colleges. They should try out different technology classes, art classes, foreign languages, and whatever seems to interest them. Although colleges are looking at a student’s life as a whole, grade as still an important factor, so the better your student does in school the better chance they have at getting into the college that they want. Help your student work hard in their classes and ensure they get good grades.
Even though your child still has a few years before they have to make any major college decision, this is a great time for them to start planning. Begin talking with your child about which colleges they want to go to, if they want to stay in the state or go to an out-of-state college. Get your child thinking about scholarships and maybe even help them begin to build a resume. If you student has a job, maybe suggest that they start putting some money aside and begin saving for college.
As your student heads into their sophomore year, they should be focused on their grades. Staying on top of their classes is important, especially as their classes begin to get more difficult. But they should also begin to think more about their college options. Remind your high schooler that some colleges they may be interested in require students to take the SAT and some require the ACT, a list can be found here from PrepScholar. If they are only looking at colleges that require the ACT, they may not have to take the SAT, saving money, stress, and time. If they have no idea which college they want to attend, their best option is to take both tests.
Beginning to prepare for these tests early can help them feel more confident and ready when the time does come to take them. RCS has college prep classes that help your student prepare for these tests, allowing them to head into their senior year feeling fully prepped.
Your student should begin thinking more about what they want to study in college, what careers they may be interested in, and what they are looking for in a college. Many students choose a college based on the specialized programs they offer. Other students choose a college that offers many different areas of study, giving them options to choose from. Whichever way your child leans, make sure they begin to consider their options throughout the year.
Your student will want to stay involved and continue doing extracurricular activities. Encourage them to join clubs, try out for different sports, and perhaps even get a job. A summer job or a weekend job could help them learn responsibility and allow them to save some money. Try to encourage them to save a majority of the money they make, since they are living at home, this is a good time to get their savings account looking good before heading out on their own.
This is a good time to sit down with your teen and talk to them about their college options. Ask them if they have done any research on colleges and if not, encourage them to do so. Ask them if they have begun to consider what they want to study and where they may want to go, and be sure to encourage them to make the decision they think is best for their future. Have them make a list of colleges and slowly find out more about each school, this will help them narrow it down and get a better idea of what they are looking for.
If your high schooler is looking at schools that require or recommend the SAT, help your child prepare and sign them up for the PSAT, allowing them to get practice and have an idea of what the actual test will be like.
Your student should begin having a better idea of the colleges they want to attend, what they may consider studying, and gather college information. Make sure they are staying on top of their academic lives, social lives, and continuing the hard work for the rest of the year.
If you follow all of the tips above, by the time your student makes it to senior year, they will be more prepared than many other students. This can help them feel more confident and stress less as the college decision begins to draw closer. Your teen will be taking the SAT and ACT within the first few months of senior year and hopefully they will be prepared.
Begin visiting colleges on their list to ensure they like the campus, the atmosphere, and the location. Once they have a finalized list, begin applying. Try to encourage your senior to apply for one college each week depending on how many they are applying to. Don’t let them procrastinate and help them whenever possible. Make sure they get letters of recommendations and all the other essentials for applications.
Help your student apply to scholarships and emphasize the fact they even a small scholarship can save them thousands. They should be working on applications for colleges and scholarships regularly and keeping track of everything they have done.
Once your student begins hearing back from colleges, help them decide. Making a decision on a college when they are accepted to many of the ones they were interested in is difficult. Help them by making pros and cons lists, talking about what they liked more about different schools, and have them begin to narrow their choices down. Once they decide on a college, celebrate! Your student worked hard these past few years and they deserve a break. At this point all you will have to worry about is getting them ready to actually attend college.
Peterson’s offers extensive lists outlining everything that can be done to prepare for college, so if you want more information, check it out!
Preparing your student for college can be stressful and hectic, but the early you start preparing the easier it will be! At Resurrection Christian School, we offer a college prep class for our high school students, allowing them to get the knowledge and help they need to take the next step in life. Contact us today to learn more about our school!