If you have a child nearing high school, you need to think about college early and now is the time to get him or her ready for college. Surprise you? It did me, until my oldest became a junior in high school. That is when I learned I was sorely unprepared for what it takes to get your child in to college. If I had known three years ago what I know now, things would have been different. Here are some tips I’ve learned about getting your child prepared to attend college:
- Grades really do matter. We all know this, but do we talk to our children enough about it? When our kids are 14 or 15, most lectures go in one ear and out the other. Grades are important because blah blah blah, is what most kids hear. But they need to learn exactly what this means. Individual grades were always my focus when in fact I should have explained the importance of a GPA as well. Pick a few colleges, from the “dream college” to the local college and find out what the average GPA is expected to be in order to be accepted in to the college. On the day your child brings home his or her first high school report card, look at the GPA together. Then talk about if this would get someone in to a good college, as well as if it would be a good number for scholarship funds. It is surprising to note just how high a GPA needs to be for college acceptance.
- A student resume is an important part of the college application process. Keep a blank sheet of paper on hand to record your child’s extracurricular activities, volunteer activities and awards. Enter the information in to a computer file that you back up regularly. It is much easier to build a list of accomplishments as they occur than to try and remember what happened over the course of four years.
- Take your child to a college campus or two in his or her freshman or sophomore year. Get him or her excited about the freedom of college and the ability one has to learn anything they choose for a career path. Most colleges will take students and parents on tours during any year of high school.
- Collegeboard.org provides SAT practice tests online. Have your child go through SAT questions once a month early in their high school years. By the time your child is ready to take the actual test, it will be both familiar and easier than if you had not started early. Make the practice tests fun by taking them as well. See if you can get a higher score than your child!
It may seem early to think about college when you first send your child off to 9th grade, but take it from me, these years simply fly by. Take the opportunity to gradually get your child in the college mindset. This will not only help your child to get accepted to several colleges, but to think about the future and what wonderful things it can bring!