If you have a child in high school, you know that there is a lot of thought and worry put towards college. Juniors and Seniors especially are swarmed with college information, and it can be a pain to sift through. By helping your children get ready for college early you can save them a world of confusion and anxiety.
One of the biggest barriers that people have going into college is finances. It's no secret that going to college is expensive. Depending on what program you go into, you could be paying thousands of dollars more than you make normally. Many colleges offer financial aid programs that you can apply for ahead of time, but it is also wise to have some money saved already too.
Perhaps the most common form of financial aid is student loans. These are sometimes offered through the college itself but are usually offered externally. Many loan companies will cover all college-related expenses such as tuition, boarding, and books and wait until graduation to begin the payment plan. While these loans are certainly convenient, they can come with some serious fine print. Often they come with hefty interest rates that will skyrocket the amount you are actually paying back. If you are looking into getting a loan for your child, definitely do some shopping around to find one that best fits your budget.
Another way to prepare your high schooler for their college journey is through standardized testing. Many colleges will look for scores on tests such as the ACT or SAT for acceptance and scholarships opportunities. By giving your child plenty of opportunities to study for these tests before they come around, they will have better scores and better chances of getting financial aid.
These tests may seem intimidating, and they certainly aren't easy, but preparation is key. Many high schools will offer a test prep course during testing season, and there are courses online to help your child be confident enough to get the best scores possible. If there is no course available in your area, bookstores have test prep books with both tips on how to stay focused during the test itself and practice test questions. By starting ahead of time, the chances that your child will get a good score will be infinitely higher.
Picking the School
Once you've considered financial aid and test scores, it's time to choose the program and school your child wants to attend. There are many factors to consider when picking a college. Things like cost, acceptance rate, graduation rate, and even the area it's in can all play into a decision. While you should definitely focus on the scholastic benefits a school has, there is nothing wrong with considering the extracurriculars it offers too. Perks like sports teams, Greek life, and student activities can definitely influence the ultimate choice.
As for what program to choose, this will pretty much come down to your child. This is all about what they want to do with the rest of their life. It will probably be hard not to decide this for them based on potential salaries or fame, but ultimately it is their life, and they are the ones that will have to live with the results of that choice. Once they choose what path they want to take, whether it is an art program or medical school, you can begin looking at different colleges and universities. A little bit of research will show you what colleges are better for what programs and your overall list will narrow from there. It might take some work, and will certainly take some research, but you and your high schooler will be able to find the perfect school that suits their dream.
Overall, though sending a child off to college can be a huge task, you don't have to be running around like a headless chicken when the summer of senior year comes. By getting some of the planning done ahead of time, you can avoid so much undue stress and just enjoy time with your student.