Monday, September 23, 2013

Are You Ready to Send Your Kid to College?

With school in full swing, we have to get into our old habit of asking our kids did you do your homework? I hope that by high school, you have instilled the desire to succeed in your children and set them up to be successful. Time management is key.

Are you ready to send your students to college? Make sure your child has every advantage they need to get into the college of their dreams. Whether you are an alumnus or your child is going to a new college, they need to have the right testing scores, essays, and grades to be recognized as a potential student at the college of their choice. Finding that right balance takes more than asking your kid if they finished all of their homework.  There are plenty of free resources available to help your kid get into school.

1. Use Free School Resources.  Guidance counselors are skilled in assisting your students to get into college. We often forget that fact because counselors spend more time with the "problem" kids that the hard worker bees are often left unassisted. Be proactive, schedule an appointment with your counselor and student. Sit with them and ask the questions you know your kid isn't going to know how to ask. Counselors spend time going to colleges and learning about what they have to offer students. Sample questions are below:

  • How can I help my student get into college?
  • Where can I go to find free tutoring on campus?
  • What classes should my student take to get ready for college prep tests?
  • Do you recommend the ACT or the SAT?

Getting into college is about being the most prepared and looking like the applicant with the most potential for success. Using your free resources makes perfect sense...

2. Fill out your taxes and complete the FAFSA early. Regardless of how much money you make, fill out the FAFSA. The earlier the better. Some states use this information to award state mandated funds. When those funds run out, you lose. Also, private universities use this information to prepare a financial package for you. If your information isn't available until later in their process, the funds may run out.

3. Apply to more than one school. It's perfectly fine to know that you only want to go to ABC University, but what if you get in and can't afford to go even with student loans? Without a backup plan, you may have to wait a year or go to a community college. There isn't anything wrong with community college, but there are more class options at the larger universities and you will not have to worry about transferring your credits to a new school. Also, you can complete a Bachelor's degree without the extra expense of classes that don't count for anything on your degree plan.

4. Take your SAT or ACT early. The earlier you take the test, the more time you have to take it again. Some colleges take the math component from one test and the English component from another to give you a better score when you take the SAT. Study for the test. Use the sample questions to get comfortable with the style of the test.

Take a prep test at your campus. If you score well, colleges will notice.

5. Find inspiration by visiting the college campus. Take a campus tour. Ask their admissions office about their process and deadlines. Write them down then and follow up with setting deadlines for yourself. You may find that you like one campus more than another because of the staff or the surrounding areas.

Take a peek into classrooms and labs to see what kind of equipment is available when you attend. Start visiting colleges as soon as possible. Using the summer after your sophomore year will give you plenty of time to get on the mailing lists to visit campuses again in the fall and spring to attend open houses and tailgate parties.

6. Hire a professional to assist your student with filling out forms or test prep. This can be a daunting task for a parent to manage and go to work every day. Where your kid goes to college affects their future. The help you give can be as simple as getting them a tutor after school to improve their grades or spending thousands of dollars to preparatory programs to get them primed for greatness.

If you need help, you're not alone. Many are turning to professionals to get into better schools. But, what do you do if you can't afford to send your kid to a college boot camp? You get creative that's what you have to do. Your kids deserve the best chance to get into college. Don't let the cost discourage you...many of the programs offer you options.

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