College Prep – For Parents

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Semper paratus.  Always prepared.  When it comes to college planning, many people think that saving for college from the time your college-bound child is born is the primary piece of college planning’s “semper paratus.”  And that is true, but only in part.  What if I told you that in today’s crazy world of college admissions, getting prepared takes much more than that?  Yes, saving $$ is wise, of course!  However, if you really want to get your child ready, read on.

Tempus fugit.  Time flies.  Before you know, little Johnny is a senior in high school and applying to colleges cytotec pills 200mg.  Looking back, did he take the right classes?  Is his transcript looking good?  Did he take any SAT Subject tests?  Did he volunteer or work or develop a special talent that he loves?  Could you and he have charted his course a bit differently?  These are common questions students and parents encounter as they begin the college application process.  Many experience the classic “I wish I had known then what I know now” syndrome.  I have one student who wishes she had figured out how to take more AP classes despite the scheduling challenges and lack of course offerings at her school.   Another student had never even heard of SAT Subject tests until her the start of her senior year.

So, what to do?  While not everyone is meant to attend an Ivy League school, regardless of what collegiate aspirations your child may have, being as prepared as possible for the ultra competitive scene of college admissions is never a bad idea.  These days, with more students graduating high school and planning to attend college, many state universities have competitive admissions and impacted majors.  In California, for example, residents are finding it more challenging to attend their own public universities as more out-of-state students apply and get accepted.

Ok, you get it.  So, what to do?

Step one begins before high school.  Encourage your student to take more challenging coursework.  In junior high, encourage Little Johnny to take a foreign language or band.  Starting an elective like a foreign language can help him place into a higher language level freshman year.  And, make sure he continuously works on his math skills throughout.  Raise the bar and keep it elevated at the best level for him.  I am not encouraging parents to force their kids to play piano or study Mandarin 5 hours every Saturday.  I am simply suggesting that you look for the best, appropriate academic path.

Don’t let summers float by like a lazy river.  Use them well!  Internships, college tours, camps, travel – all of these contribute to Johnny’s education and foster personal growth.  He could study for the PSAT the summer before sophomore year and take the PSAT in the spring.   He could mentor a younger peer or perhaps volunteer at a local non-profit.  If he takes a job, he should try to find something related to his possible career interests, whatever they may be at the time.

And while Johnny is assiduously working hard in school and using his summers wisely, you, his smart and loving parents, are saving money and learning how the financial aid process works.  And when you realize that you are too busy to help Johnny with his college list, applications, scholarship search, special talent resume, and essays, you find a wonderful, independent college counselor to help him.  Et, voila!  NOW, you are truly prepared!

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