Students typically go into college preparation hyper-drive in their junior year of high school. This is when they take standardized tests and start visiting the schools they're interested in. Preparing your child for college can start much earlier in their education, primarily by enrolling them in the best schools, making sure they're in the right classes, and fanning the flames of their passions.
Finding The Right High School
Different high schools have different cultures, and your child may fit into some better than others or find themselves excelling in certain environments more than others. As a parent, you have the option of enrolling your child in private schools as early as their elementary education. If your family doesn't have the funds for private schooling that early, focus on saving or finding scholarships for high school. That will be the most important step before college. Public high school counselors say they spend about 22% of their time on college-related counseling, while counselors at private schools say they spend upwards of 55% of their time on college-related counseling. Private or public, the best schools are the ones that focus on academic achievements to prepare students for selective colleges.
Choosing Challenging Courses
While colleges will look at your child's overall GPA and grades, they will also look at the specific classes they have taken. A student's academic record stands out when there is a strong selection of AP courses and useful electives on it. Institutions want to see that a student has challenged themselves in their coursework. When your child is selecting their classes, become involved in the process to make sure that their schedule is well-rounded and impressive. Taking the right classes as early as freshman year will count towards what prospective colleges look at in their selection process. When your child enrolls in advanced courses, like AP courses, and does well in them they can often use them to get a leg up with college credit.
Helping Them Find Their Passion
Often, the most challenging part of the college application process for students is choosing which colleges they are interested in, especially if they do not know what they want to study in college. Encouraging your child's interests and passions from early on will help give them a direction and focus when looking at colleges. If your child is more artistically inclined, look into enrolling them in a performing arts school for middle or high school. This will give them an advantage if they are still serious about pursuing a career in performance when its time for college applications.
Preparing your child for college is a balance in making sure they have the best schools and best opportunities available and in drawing out their interests so that they put in the necessary amount of work. Your child needs to be excited and engaged in the college selection process, or else the entire process will be harder for everyone involved.