We are in the ending stage of the college application season, and I am so happy that we are nearing the end. I cannot explain how drawn out the application process is or all that goes into it. Applying to colleges is not just about the initial application. It is about researching schools, visiting campuses, writing essays, and communicating. It is a year-long process and one that the student needs to be in control of but one the parent should support along the way.
If you have a junior in high school right now, you should already be starting this journey. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Have your student begin researching schools. They should start by researching online. To get them started discuss possible majors, locations, and college size with them.
- Visit some schools that are close by to get a feel for different campuses. Touring a university or college helps high school students get a better idea for what they like or don’t like. I found it also gets teens excited about the process.
- Run the net price calculator at various colleges. This will help you get a better idea on the cost of sending your child to college and will help you eliminate some schools that are too expensive.
- Begin working on essays – It’s never too early to start thinking about essays. If your student will be using the common app (which they most likely will for some of the schools they apply to) the essays prompts are already available.
- Register your student to take the SAT or ACT. If they have already taken the test discuss with them if they think they could score higher on a retake. One thing I learned during this whole process is that test scores are still a huge factor in the decision making. If there is a chance your student could score higher have them retake the test.
- Start working on their transcripts and course descriptions if you haven’t yet. Ideally you have been keeping records for the last three years. If you haven’t give yourself plenty of time to get everything in order.
- Have your student begin contacting people that they would like to use for recommendations. It is better to get this set up now while you have time. Having strong recommenders is another vital component so don’t leave this until the last minute.
- And finally – try to let your student do as much of this as they can on their own. This is their first major decision of their adult life. They should be figuring out where they want to go/what they want to major in for themselves. They should also be the ones reaching out to colleges, professors, and recommenders. It is a learning process and will help prepare them for the next four years of their life.