Band, sports, church, projects, essays, algebra, report cards, school dances, driving lessons, hormones and dating—who has time to think about college for their teens? Waiting until senior year of high school to get started with ACT’s, SAT’s, scholarships and college admission can cause your child to miss out on many available opportunities.
If your child actually listens to the school announcements and heeds the advice of school counselors, don’t plan on your teen relaying the information to you as a parent. Here are a few of the things you need to know.
- Tests. It is a good idea for your child to take both the ACT and SAT several times. Some students test better with one version versus the other. Practice tests are helpful but your child may find it advantageous to take the actual test more than once. Anxiety or other factors such as testing in a different environment can directly affect the score of your child. In many cases, scores jump dramatically when testing for the second or third time.
- Scholarships. Check GA College 411, the school website, your local library, your place of worship and any clubs and organizations to which you are a member. Many scholarships are specific to an organization such as a school, church or even a credit union. Don’t discount private colleges. With college specific scholarships and grants, the price can be comparable to that of state schools for some students. Also some private universities are known for offering scholarships to students going through an “early admission” process. There is less competition for these kinds of scholarships, as many teens wait until the end of their senior year to apply.
- Dual Enrollment. Your high school junior or senior can take classes that earn credit towards both the high school diploma and a college degree at Kennesaw State University, Georgia Highlands, Chattahoochee Tech and others. See Patch.com’s article: Earn College Credit With Dual Enrollment.
- In State/Out of State Tuition. Don’t discount a nearby college because it is out of state. Many colleges and universities will offer in-state tuition to students from the greater Atlanta metro area. Jacksonville State University counts Acworth students in Paulding county as “in-state” residents. Call the admissions office of the school your child is interested in and ask if your county or city is an exception to the in-state/out-of-state rule.
- Keep records. Your teen’s participation in sports, the arts, FBLA, DECA, BETA Club, and serving within a ministry or other organization can provide great material to be used in admission essays, recommendations and even job applications. Volunteering and community service hours can count as job experience and show leadership values that many universities seek. Keep track of your child’s volunteering efforts and ask for documentation. Read College Applications: A Matter of Applying Yourself on Patch for some great tips regarding stellar recommendation letters.
- Visit. Visit college fairs, talk to recruiters and alumni. Most importantly, start to visit college campuses. As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Marketing is a very lucrative business—the school you visit may be different from the one you see displayed in the glossy pamphlets. Read Making the Right Choice
for items to keep in mind when visiting a prospective school.