The Path to Readiness Starts Early
Preparing children for college and careers can seem a daunting task for parents, but if begun early, the challenge can be thoroughly addressed, giving students a solid foundation upon which to build their postsecondary experience.
What can you do to help prepare your child for success?
Elementary and Middle School
- Encourage your child to succeed. It’s important to encourage and monitor your child’s academic success from the beginning of his or her education. Helping your child develop good study habits and become involved in school activities will create a positive academic experience. Checking homework and limiting time spent watching television, texting, or surfing the Internet will enhance concentration and study skills; meeting your child’s teachers and understanding what they expect from your child will also build a foundation for success. Talking to your child about his or her college and career aspirations will improve self-confidence and give your child direction and focus. For more tips on how to be involved in your child’s education, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s parent and family engagement page.
- If your child intends to go to college, check the courses he or she is taking. By middle school or junior high, college-bound students should be enrolled in the classes that will prepare them for the high school classes necessary for college preparation. For a list of courses recommended by the U.S. Department of Education, see Think college early: Middle school and junior high classes. See also Orange juice or orange drink? Ensuring that "advanced courses" live up to their labels (NCEA, 2006).
- Talk to the high school guidance counselor. The guidance counselor will have all the information you need on college admissions and requirements, as well as the financial aid and application processes. Make sure you are aware of deadlines and requirements well in advance. The counselor will also have information on college admissions tests, such as the ACT, as well as the process for filling out the paperwork to register for these tests.
- Do your own research. In addition to meeting the high school guidance counselor, you can take advantage of the many resources available in print or via the Internet. When it comes to helping your child choose the most appropriate college, vocational school or training program, you will want to consider the desired subject of study, budget and expenses, and campus location when weighing your options.
The Financial Challenge
Many families feel higher education is simply not an option financially. However, with the range of choices available today, combined with increasing access to student loans and online courses, the opportunity for a high school graduate to obtain some form of postsecondary education or training exists now more than ever before.
The following websites will help in your research of finanical aid options: