After 18 years of hard work, you may be dreading sending your child away to college, but here is some advice for parents of college bound students to help ease the transition and prepare your child for the next major phase of his or her life.
1. Find College-Prep Opportunities
College prep programs for high school students are great opportunities for students to explore their academic interests, experience life on a college campus, and improve their resumes. There are college prep programs for nearly every area of interest from entrepreneurship to STEM, the arts, journalism, and beyond. They typically take place in the summer on a college campus over one to seven weeks, giving students the opportunity to get a real taste of college life.
Unfortunately, there are many summer programs out there that aren’t legitimate and take advantage of students, so it is important for you to help guide your child through the search process and to conduct thorough research on each of the programs he or she is interested in to make sure they’re not just cash cows. If you and your child are interested in college prep programs, here is a list of 25 recognizable programs that are sure to offer great learning experiences for your child and be a positive addition to his or her resume.
2. Search for Scholarships
There are millions of dollars available in scholarships, but you do have to know where to look to find them. Businesses, non-profits, and other organizations offer scholarships for special skills and abilities in numerous areas. Because there are so many, it can be overwhelming for students to search for these scholarships.
When helping to search, keep in mind what your child excels at and what makes her unique. Seek out scholarships in those specialties and help your college bound student narrow down which scholarships to apply to so they can maximize potential. Membership in honor societies like NSHSS can be a great way to find and apply for scholarships.
3. Help Them with Financial Aid
Financial Aid is undoubtedly one of the most confusing aspects of the college application process. Some college financial aid advice for parents is to guide students through the FAFSA to help them avoid mistakes, but also to learn how to apply themselves in the future. The financial aid packets sent by colleges are very confusing since colleges don’t have a single, unified system of presenting such aid.
Each packet your children receives will be different from the others. Make sure your college bound students understand the difference between scholarships, grants, and loans to keep them from burying themselves in a mountain of debt they won’t be able to handle post-graduation. For a more in-depth look at financial aid and more information on the top 15 schools with the best financial aid offerings, check out this blog.
4. Take Them on Tours
One of the most important aspects of choosing the right college is culture. Students should feel at home at their university and it can be hard to tell if a school is a good fit based on pamphlets and websites alone. Help your children make a list of their top schools and attend as many campus tours and info sessions as possible. College tours are a great opportunity for students to get a feel for the culture of a school and whether or not they could make it their home for four or more years. You both may be surprised to find that what you thought was your dream school, wasn’t a good fit after visiting, and is replaced by a school that wasn’t as high on the list. If your child is looking for opportunities to tour colleges on the East Coast, check out the NSHSS Ivy League & East Coast University Tour!
5. Prepare Them for Living on Their Own
It can be hard to imagine your children living on their own for the first time, but you can make sure they survive by preparing them for the basics of living on their own. Start with little things like household chores and cooking lessons and work up to bigger tasks like paying bills. You know your children better than anyone, so you know what they will need to thrive once they leave your household. You should also trust that you’ve done a good job raising them and that they’ll be perfectly fine on their own.
Some of the best advice for parents of college students is to listen to what your child wants and trust that they will find their own way. While you can help to guide them, ultimately many of these decisions are theirs to make. Hopefully this advice for parents of college students has helped to put you at ease. If you have more questions about the college admissions process, order a copy of College Admission: How to get into Your Dream School –Real Students, Real Stories for a thorough how-to guide for students and their families.