As a parent, an ultimate goal is to watch your teen succeed, and when it comes to education, flourishing in college is the end-all be-all. Ultimately, it will be up to your teen to thrive during these years, but as a parent, you can help your teen get ready. What can be an overwhelming time in both your and your teen’s life can be condensed to several simple steps.
1. Figure Out What Education Your Teen Needs
This may seem elementary, but there are many nuances to education and the various degrees attainable. Maybe your teen will need to continue on all the way to obtaining a Ph.D., or maybe he or she will only need to complete a short certification program. Research is key here; some industries may require differing degrees inside a specific field, some may have entry level requirements that vary from the education level necessary to move up the ladder and promote. Qualifications may even change from state to state. Help your teen to explore possible educational paths and decide what will work best for him or her.
2. Get Ready Academically
The majority of a college application rests on your teen’s academic standing. Grades and test scores are the first factor used to cull applicants from the pool. Strictly academic pursuits may not be enough, though; in this day and age, many students are similarly intellectually matched, and what will make or break an application will be extra-curricular activities. Encourage your teen to pursue new activities and seek out clubs or teams they can be a part of. The longer the better– starting young may well be a good option. In fact, UC San Diego Direct of Admissions Mae Brown told Forbes, “Start preparing for college at grade six.”
3. Get Ready Financially
College is obviously a major expense, but there are many ways you can begin saving early that will pad the blow when it comes time to pay. Several savings accounts, including 529 College Savings Plans, can be opened early in a teen’s life and come with tax benefits. Again, beginning early can be a saving grace– college is easily one of the most expensive ventures possible in this day and age. Another important aspect of this is scholarships. While you may not be able to fill out scholarship applications for your teen, you can be of immense aid by researching what ones are available that your teen fits the requirements for. Finally and most crucially, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The FAFSA is an application for government based financial aid, filed online, which asks for a lot of information from both parent and teen. It is vital that you aid your teen every step of the way through filling out the FAFSA, which can be started January 1 and closes June 30, as the FAFSA may well be the source of most of your teen’s financial aid.
4. Research Alternative Schooling Options
It is entirely possible that traditional schooling doesn’t mesh well with your teen. Perhaps your teen needs more structure, or less. There are an array of boarding schools that can help ensure your teen has a successful future, from college preparatory to therapeutic boarding schools. Assessing your teen’s needs during the high school years will help to assure a favorable outcome during college.
All in all, college is a stressful time for both parents and teen. Remember that this is a huge transition in your teen’s life and be supportive emotionally– and have plenty of tissues and comfort food on stock!
Karleia is a freelance blogger. Visit www.midwestacademy.net to learn how your teen can thrive in a structured and caring academic environment.
A Dream Achieved: Helping Your Teen Prepare for College Success