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Preparing your Child for College

A year-by-year guide on college preparations

September 2012

College introduces a glamorous life of living without parents, scheduling late classes as to avoid waking up with the sun, and virtually getting to hang out with your friends all the time. However, before you and your child can both be ready for the college experience, a few important steps need to be taken. Being sure to take these steps early is key in avoiding stress about the college preparation process.

Freshman Year

Freshman year is an interesting time for students. Coming from being the big dogs in middle school, they are now the youngest (and usually smallest) in a bigger school. College seems a far way off. And while that's partially true, freshman year is the time to begin preparation.

Tip: Sign up for AP classes and AP exams. Getting a 5, a 4, or sometimes a 3 on these exams can get your child credit for college classes. That saves your child some time and saves you some money.

Sophomore Year

Now that your child has a year of high school out of the way, it's time to begin some more serious preparation. Junior year is on the horizon which implies a fun year of standardized test taking. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. With these upcoming exams in the back of your mind, there are different ways you can get your child prepared.

Tip: Spend time in the SAT section on collegeboard.com. The website also has the SAT Question of the Day, study tips, practice questions, and full practice tests.

Tip: Invest in a couple ACT and SAT practice books.

Tip: If desired, SAT and ACT prep tutors can be found all over the city. This may be a beneficial option for kids who find studying rather difficult.

Junior Year

Testing time! Junior year is the most important year when it comes to college admissions. Junior year grades are very important and testing needs to be taken seriously for getting admitted and for getting scholarship money.

Tip: Stay up-to-date on exam dates. It's not uncommon to retake exams if you or your child is not happy with the test results so be sure you know when upcoming exams are.

Tip: Have your child begin thinking about colleges. There are plenty of sources online to look at and books to check out that contain school reviews and facts that you'll want to know.

Tip: Consider starting school visits during second semester of Junior year.

Senior Year

The most anticipated year of your child's high school year has arrived! This is a time for your child to apply for schools that he or she is serious about. Be sure to get applications in before deadlines, keeping in mind which schools are high priority. Having your child keep in contact with the college advisor in his or her high school will help calm some nerves and get everything where it needs to be on time. After applications are in, all you and your child can do is sit back and take a deep breath. The decisions are now out of your hands.

Understanding that all of high school is preparation for college, make sure that thought doesn't become an obsession. High school is the time for your child to go to football and basketball games, go to prom, get a driver's license, make mistakes, and have fun. You and your child have four years for exam and college preparation. While these things are important, don't forget to let your child experience the fun side of high school too. After all, 5 years after graduation, exams and papers will have been forgotten, but late nights with friends and Homecoming games will remain as memories.

Tags: Education, In This Issue

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