When you first hold that bundle of joy in your arms or chase your squealing toddler through the playground – college seems a loooonnnggg way off! And when you drop a cranky tween off for school, you may catch yourself in a weak moment counting the days until that precious child needs to do life on their own. Either way – your child is growing up, and one of the best things we can do for our children is to help them prepare for that transition. When Should I Start Preparing My Child for College?
Preparing for college and career can no longer wait until their junior or senior year of high school. College admissions are increasingly competitive, and kids need to start working toward their post-high school goals almost as soon as their freshman year begins. Here are a few tips for helping your child prepare for this amazing milestone.
Talk to your child
This is the obvious first step to Start Preparing for College. Find opportunities to talk to your child about how he/she imagines their future. Do they see themselves working in an office, or outdoors? Do they prefer daily routines, or do they prefer variety? What goals do they have? Many of us grow up with the pressure and expectation of going to college, but college is not for everyone. Allow your child to explore other paths.
Meet with your child’s high school guidance counselor
This meeting should take place during your child’s 9th grade year, or early in 10th grade. Let your child share their goals for life after graduation. The guidance counselor will help your child choose the classes he/she will need, particularly for the colleges they plan to apply to, and can help steer your child toward the extracurricular activities and even volunteer opportunities that will support their goals and influence college and career decisions.
Visit colleges early and often
This is a very step to Start Preparing for College since your child will be spending at least four years of their life at college. Colleges are as varied as individuals. Some students thrive at a large university, and others blossom in a small private college. Some do well living far from home with limited visits with mom and dad, and others enjoy more success closer to home. Give your child as much exposure as possible to different types of colleges. Even if they’ve been a lifelong fan of State University because that’s where mom, dad or their big brother went, doesn’t mean it will be the right fit for them.
As magical as the baby and childhood years are, helping your teen prepare for adulthood is an amazing adventure of its own! Start early to help your child achieve their goals and dreams!