As a parent, you’re on a mission to prepare your child with the tools necessary for success in life. If going to college is part of the plan, you want to make sure your child is ready for what’s next. Whether your child is heading off to college in a few months or a few years, you can help them gain a competitive edge and learn valuable lessons for college life. Consider these five tips:
- Talk to a teacher or counselor. If your child is thinking about college, but not sure where to start, encourage him or her to talk to a teacher or counselor. They may have some helpful ideas. Bonus: Connecting with teachers and staff can be a big plus for your child’s academic growth and confidence, and it can also help if he or she needs a teacher recommendation for college applications.
- Choose challenging classes. Advanced classes aren’t for everyone, but they’re a great opportunity if your child is ready. Advanced placement (AP) classes offer the chance to do college-level work in high school. Bonus: AP classes give students a glimpse of college-level coursework. And, students may earn college credits through their AP exams.
- Get involved in extracurricular activities. Encourage your child to participate in activities of interest—sports, music, drama, art, academic clubs, student government, mentoring or other programs. Bonus: Being involved helps your child build important skills like teamwork, commitment and leadership. (Plus, it can be fun and rewarding!)
- Check out internships and volunteer opportunities. Encourage your child to make the most of summer break and scope out volunteer programs, job shadowing or internships in your community. Bonus: Gaining real-world experience can help shape your child’s interests and, potentially, college major.
- Practice taking standardized tests. Although test scores aren’t the only factor colleges consider in the admissions process, they’re still important. Experts recommend taking college entry tests like ACTs or SATs more than once because the student chooses which score to send to the college and can send the best score. Practice tests and study guides are available at local libraries and online. Bonus: Practicing can help reduce test anxiety, and most students improve when they take a test a second time.
Some parents worry their child isn’t taking college preparation seriously enough or isn’t completing all the to-dos in a timely manner, but too much pressure can be counterproductive. Try to find a balance of support and encouragement while allowing your child to take responsibility for his or her future.
At Navy Federal Credit Union, we understand how important it is to plan for your family’s future. We also know that finding ways to pay for college is a big financial hurdle for many families. Learn more about how we can help you reach your financial goals with Education Savings and Student Loan programs.