9 Simple Ways You Can Help Your Child Jump Start Their College Planning

Did you know that the decisions your high school freshman son or daughter makes can impact his or her college career? They might affect how soon your child goes to college, what type of college he or she attends, and even whether he or she will go to college at all.

As a parent, your support will be critical during high school to help your child to make decisions that will lead to the most suitable college and, ultimately, career path. Here are some things that your child can do to get ready for college planning and some ways for you to help.

  1. Get involved. Getting ready for college isn’t all work. Your child should find something she really likes doing, then dive into it and enjoy the time. Colleges like to have a diverse and motivated student body.
  2. Do the work. If your child expects to go to college, studying and work hard are critical throughout four years of high school.
  3. Get help. If your child is having problems with a class get him the necessary tutoring. Learning is cumulative, so you don’t want your child falling behind. Encourage your child to talk to his teachers or counselors and let them know he wants extra help.
  4. Read. Your child should read at least 30 minutes every day, beyond studying and homework. Let him read what interests him — magazines, novels, etc. – just so he gets comfortable reading. Your child’s strength in reading will be essential when she takes the college prep exams such as the PSAT’s SAT’s and ACT’s.
  5. Don’t delay. Students take the PSAT in the junior year or even in the sophomore year. So your child shouldn’t delay taking her math courses. She should talk to her counselor to make sure she is taking the courses that will get him ready.
  6. Get the college-bound facts. Talk to friends and family members that have been through the process to learn about their experiences in applying to colleges. Talk to school counselors together so that you too have all the facts. Maybe reach out to a trusted teacher for additional advice. This is a big decision so don’t limit your research.
  7. Provide family support. If you haven’t been to college yourself, you may think you can’t help your child. That’s not true. Talk to the counselors and help him stay on the right path. Your support will be important as he begins to make important decisions about his future.
  8. Visit colleges. It’s never too early to visit college campuses. You can go on informal visits to colleges close to your home to help your child get a sense of what a college campus is like. Then, once you pick the school to apply to, you can go on college tours and even arrange for your child to spend a night in a dorm with a student.
  9. Confront personal roadblocks. High school can be a stressful time for students. If you child has a problem that’s really getting in the way of schoolwork, try to sort it out together. Keep an open mind and a listening ear at the ready. Your child’s counselor may also be able to help with advice, or simply to point your child to resources at school or in the community that can help.