With the school year in full swing, many parents are faced with a long list of questions about what the school year will hold for their high school student. The decisions made during these next four years, will affect what college he or she will attend, and even whether or not he will go to college at all. Because of this, there is often a lot of pressure on students to do whatever is necessary to get in to the college of their choice. And let’s not forget you, the parents. Your understanding and support will be a key component to helping your child make the right and very critical decisions which can impact the rest of their lives. Here is what you can expect in the next four years:
For freshman students, high school is a new and exciting time. They will have a new school, new friends and new and more rigorous courses. Although this may seem like a very trying time, the fall semester is the perfect time to talk to your child to begin working on an academic student plan. Make sure you know what courses he/she is currently enrolled in and that they meet both graduation requirements and college entrance requirements. These classes should begin to prepare your student for college. Also, extracurricular activities should be explored. This is an essential part of high school and should not be dismissed or ignored.
Your sophomore student is a more aware and familiar with high school life. Now is the time to dive into building your “academic resume”. Your transcript is available for review by the school. Ask your counselor for a copy and make sure that your courses are all listed with the grades, and that your current class load is appropriate. Begin preparing for college admission tests such as the SAT’s and ACT’s. And last, and most important, keep up with your grades and extracurricular activities throughout the year. This is critical and the very foundation for success.
Your junior student is probably involved in a more fast paced environment. He/she is definitely off and running. Your child should be taking the PSAT in October and begin preparing for the SAT’s and ACT’s which should be taken in the spring. Fall is the perfect time to begin researching and visiting college campuses. Develop a list of characteristics that will assist in determining which college is the best for your son/daughter. If finances are an issue, now is the time to review which resources are available at the high school, in the community, and online to learn how college costs work and what financial assistance is available to your family based on your economic situation.
Your senior student. How fast the time has passed. He or she can be feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done this year. At the beginning of this year, make sure all coursework that he or she is enrolled in is appropriate. Meeting with the school counselor is key. Reviewing his/her transcript to ensure that all graduation requirements and college entrance requirements are being met. Getting a calendar is crucial. Write down all deadlines for the year. For example, College Entrance exams, college applications and financial aid applications. Also remember that some college require recommendation letters. Make sure that your son/daughter asks his counselor/teacher/coach and other mentors for these in a timely fashion. And one last item. Some colleges require college essays/personal statements. Have your student work with someone on these. Someone who knows them well and can assist in writing a strong statement. This in a sense can be considered a “letter of intent”. What makes he/she the best candidate/person for the school. How will their contributions make a difference.
Finally, don’t forget to breathe. It may seem like a lot, but it is manageable. Keep on top of your students education and goals. Set these together and remember to use all resources. Talk to your high school staff, whether it is a teacher, counselor, coach, vice principal, and remember that they all went to college. They have gone through this process and they made it out with a commitment and desire to give back to your student. Talk to members of your community, your church. And never underestimate the power of the internet. Surf. Become informed and remember that with a little hard work and dedication this school year will be a success.