Many parents ask our expert college counselors at International College Counselors how early their students need to start preparing for the college admissions process. The answer from our expert college counselors: as soon as possible, especially if your student is looking at competitive schools.
The secret is to make the process fun. And not stress your student out too early or too much. College admissions stress is inevitable but it can be minimized even if your child is aiming for the Ivy League. Plus, expert college counselors know, the journey towards a college degree can be a bonding discovery process for all involved.
Here are some International College Counselors tips for parents:
• Review your student’s schedule with him or her at the beginning of the school year. The goal is to have your child enroll in challenging classes that will help them prepare for college. Help your child be less afraid to reach slightly higher than their comfort level. Build your child’s confidence and offer your support. But, expert college counselors understand, be mindful of the realities and don’t push your student too far above his or her level.
• Make sure your student meets with his or her counselor to discuss college plans. Students tend to procrastinate. (You don’t need to be an expert, or a college counselor, or work at International College Counselors to know this.)
• Help your student start a calendar. Work with him or her to update it regularly with any important dates and deadlines.
• Encourage your child to get involved with extracurricular activities. Who knows your child best, but you? Take what you’ve observed over the past 13 years and encourage your student to explore their interests. Water polo, bowling, harp playing, choir, drama, debate, or starting a business. Explore interests outside the school as well. Is your child interested in science? Have them check out volunteer opportunities at a local science museum or center. If your student likes to write, maybe there’s a place for him or her to cover high school activities for the local paper. If a child has an interest in an activity, there’s a greater chance they’ll stick with it and accomplish something. Colleges like to see that a student stays with something and moves up in it. If you’re in Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami, college counselor at International College Counselors know you have many, many options.
• Start talking about financing college. Talking about money helps students understand how much college really costs, and how they can help defray the costs through applying to private scholarships and getting good grades. Talking about money will also start introducing them to the adult concepts like financial aid and loans. Generally, if you treat your child like an adult now, chances are they will behave more like an adult later. Even in 9th grade there are scholarship monies available to use towards college. Topics expert college counselors at International College Counselors suggest include how much money they’ll need for college, how much they should try to save, and ways to reach their goal, whether it’s part-time work or more AP classes.
• Familiarize yourself with the SAT Subject Tests and help build your child’s confidence in his or her strong subjects. Encourage him or her to take the tests as soon as they finish the course so the material is still fresh to them. Subject Tests include World History, Literature, Biology E/M, and Chemistry.
• Help your student find a summer opportunity. Do some networking on their behalf. If your student is interested in medicine, see who is in your network that you might be able to call. The same goes for if your student wants to be a graphic designer or a vet. Many businesses wouldn’t mind a free volunteer. Suggest opportunities around the community your student might not have considered. Students tend to be so caught up in their own world, they may not even realize there may be a cool museum nearby to volunteer at and gain the kind of experience college admissions officers smile upon.
• Help your student search online for summer school programs for high school students at colleges, if this is the route they choose.
• Encourage your child to read. It’s the best way to prepare for the SAT and all standardized exams. If they don’t have a favorite author? Take them to the local library to explore popular options within their age group.
• Go on college campus visits with your student. At this point in the game, it’s low pressure. Make it fun. When you go on any family vacations, make it a point to visit college campuses around your destination. Even if the schools are not on your child’s radar, these visits will give everyone a chance to get a feel for the options.
Most importantly: Be there for your child. Be present in his or her life. Listen to his or her hopes, fears and goals. Working together can make these dreams more real and much more possible.
International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications. Mandee Heller Adler, lead college admissions consultant and Founder of International College Counselors tailors her wide range of college counseling and college coaching services to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each individual student, whether Florida college or Ivy League university. Our college advising company, based in Miami-Dade, Florida, works with domestic and international students. We also work with high schools in Miami, Boca, Broward and Palm Beach. Let us help you make the best decisions choosing, getting into, and paying for college.