Parents and their college-bound often start the college process during students’ high school years. Many advisors use calendars to assign certain key chores including studying for college admission tests, researching colleges, and completing college/financial aid applications. However, to increase chances for a successful college experience and beyond, college prep starts much earlier.
In a way, the college process starts with the birth of a child. That’s when parents can first make education a priority. Teaching a child the love of learning is a skill with a lifetime of uses. From developing good study skills to time management, prepared children are better able to successfully complete school assignments from elementary school through college. The bonus is these skills are applicable to nonacademic situations including extracurricular activities and jobs.
Parents can do more than teach. They can put their money where their mouth is. Putting assets aside for higher education is an investment for the future. The bonus here is showing children the importance of saving, budgeting and living within one’s means. When the time comes, this will help make an affordable college choice.
Students taking advanced classes in middle school may find their grades added to their high school transcripts. They may have just entered their teen years but colleges are already interested in these students’ school work.
The pressure to do well in school, find favorite extracurricular activities, and develop leadership skills begins. Time management becomes a more critical skill. Parents can help by watching for signs of overload and burn out. Stress is part of life and stress management is also a skill parents can teach. The bonus is better communication between parents and their teens.
By high school, students and parents can continue the college process as a team. Family meetings can keep tract of college prep details and the bonus is keeping communication flowing.
It’s important to take care of necessary time-consuming college prep without forfeiting time for family, friends and extra-curricular activities. Sometimes even personal downtime has to be included in an organized schedule.
Another bonus is mixing business with pleasure by planning some family fun activities such as a collegecation (college visit + family vacay).
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