Why College Preparation for
High School Students Benefits You
College preparation sure can sound like a lot of extra work on top of everything else you are expected to do in high school. Here's why taking a little time now saves you a lot of pain later.
Gain more insights on how to beat the enemy of procrastination listen and view
Dennis's 6 minute introduction*.
Dennis features both the successful attitudes and right actions for parents and students to stay the course for a successful college preparation.
- Avoid excessive levels of college debt. The facts are telling that students who don't prepare well are much more likely to take on alarmingly high college debt to reach their degree goal. While it's the last thing most high school underclassmen are thinking about just start to become aware of the dangers of high college debt.
A good place to begin is to just poll friends and family you know who have recent college graduates in their family to see how much debt they had to take on to reach their goal. Ask them what it's like to have to pay it back each month.
See the recommended Stories of Student Debt link at the bottom of this page.
- Reduce your stress your senior year. Most students put off really engaging seriously in the college preparation and selection process until their senior year. Putting the college stuff on top of your course work, sports and activities is a sure fire way to stress out! The college deadlines loom large and fast so soon after Labor Day.
High School Juniors
College Preparation Checklist
Warmer months are a reminder it's really time to warm up for college preparation. Here are my three top keys to successful college preparation for juniors.
- Schedule SAT's and ACT's along with an SAT Preparation course. No single action can make more of a difference in improving both your chances of admission and receiving a more attractive financial aid package.
- Refine the objective criteria for your college selection decision. Taking the time now to know what are the important personal factors are for you is rarely done. Avoiding the trap of just visiting colleges at random greatly minimizes the expensive risks of transferring later. Visit my webinar below under Recommended Links to learn more about how my student questionnaire tool can start you out on the right foot.
- Arrange to job shadow within your top 3 fields of interest. Seeing adults doing their actual day to day work activities opens up tremendous insights you never get through the media or self assessment tests.
For further tips and valuable insights see my articles in the Recommended Links at the bottom. "5 Key Decisions for HS Upperclassmen" and "How to Maximize Your Major".
High School Sophomores
College Preparation Checklist
Don't worry about specific colleges just yet. This is the time to explore your top interests and perhaps discover new ones. Here's my top 3 things to do for college preparation for sophomores:
- Get on the right academic track. Work with your guidance office to ensure you are in the right classes that will challenge and stretch you the most. Don't take the easy route in high school - it will likely cost you with lower standardized achievement scores later. Cultivating the right study habits now builds confidence and success in college.
Also be sure you have your PSAT scheduled. If you have already taken it, review your results and areas to improve upon.
- Look for summer enrichment programs at colleges . These help on your college application and influence you in making an informed career decision.
- Look for part time and summer work. Not only does it help you begin to save for college expenses but will give you direct involvement to the world of work. What you learn about yourself and others at work will help you in your initial decisions around fields of interest.
See Recommended Links for Career Direct. A terrific assessment tool to help explore further career possibilities. Especially helpful if you are "undecided".
Parents' Role as Coach
Parent roles for interacting with their high school students should begin to change from telling to asking. For instance, becoming more of a coach that asks good open-ended questions helps your student think through things more on their own is great practice.
Students have more pressure put on them at an earlier age so cultivating a safe environment where they can "think out loud" with you is ideal.
Warning: Not all students are created equal! Seriously, we all experience responses to stress in various ways and older teenagers even more so! Some are talkative, others withdrawal. Virtually all are thinking it through in their own way.
Just be sure you offer ways to engage them early in the college preparation and decision process. In my experience it's really a thinking and discovery process. That is why giving your student plenty of lead time is essential in finding a good college fit for your student.
Unfortunately, most families delay seriously engaging in the college process. When this happens all the key facts are not gathered, false assumptions and beliefs are built up and decisions become rushed. Nothing in a student and their family's life is more costly both financially and emotionally in my experience.
Besides the overall shift to a more coaching type of role, here's my top 3 recommended actions for parents of HS upperclassmen to take:
- Learn strategies in knowing how to lower your cost. I find that the college decision is so fraught with emotion for many families that intelligent parents forget the consumer lessons they have learned with making other large purchases. See my recommended webinar link below to see how the colleges operate more like a business. Most importantly learn proven strategies you can take to lower your costs.
- Have a longer term plan for funding your college expenses. Include all children and expected college inflation rates. Accomplishing your student's degree goals at minimum levels of student and parent debt without jeopardizing your retirement goals is vital.
It is also wise to look at repositioning assets in order to maximize financial aid opportunities. See Recommended Links at the bottom of the page for my recent newsletter about all things FAFSA and Financial Aid.
Because of the uniqueness of every family's financial situation and the complexities of ever changing tax law it's very challenging to do this on your own. I find this critical financial component is best done with the help of a qualified and trusted financial planning professional.
- Plan out your college visit calendar. Spending the right time with your student at the right schools over a longer period of time is key in the decision-making process. While it's a common practice to combine family vacation time for this, just be sure to visit when college students are in session to have a valid first impression.
Recommended Links for Students
Dennis's webinar features college preparation strategies that work
Stories of Student Debt
Career Direct Assessment Tool
Recommended Links for Parents
All Things FAFSA and Financial Aid
Dennis's webinar on strategies to lower your cost
Let's Talk College
Looking for specific and proven strategies that can work in your situation? Dennis offers a free no obligation family consultation. Centered around the student's goals and family's unique situation we discuss the best options to consider.
It's easy to schedule at time that works for you. For those families out of the Rochester, NY area I'll send you the information for our live audio/webinar connection.
What Worked Well for You in Your College Preparation?
How did you beat the enemy of procrastination in your college preparation?
Parents - what did you begin to do differently that helped your student get more engaged in college preparation? What motivated you personally to take action?
Students - what motivated you to gain more progress? What practical tips made a difference for you?
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