Helping Your Rising Senior Prepare for College

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It was only yesterday that you were taking them home from the hospital, and now they’re on the cusp of finishing high school. It can be overwhelming to watch your kids grow up and leave home, but before that day comes, they still need you, particularly when it comes to getting ready for college. Below are some of the ways you can help them prepare.


Ideally, you were able to set up some kind of savings fund for your child’s educational expenses, but even parents who are able to do this generally can’t save up enough to cover tuition, fees and books as well as the cost of living. You can help your child fill out financial aid forms and look for scholarships. Another option for you is to take out a low-rate Private Parent Loan. Having private parent loans available can be a great way for parents to help out and ensure that their children aren’t overly burdened with debt after they graduate.

Talk About the Future

At 17 or 18, your child probably doesn’t know what they want to do with the rest of their life, or if they think they do, they probably won’t be doing the exact same thing until retirement. However, having some idea of what they want the future to be is important in choosing a college. A budding engineer is going to be looking for something different in a school than someone who plans to get a degree in art history. Talk to your kid about what interests them and what their options are. This can help ease any anxieties they might have about this next phase. Regular relaxation can improve learning so by the time they get to their first class you’ll both be glad these planning stages were calm.

Choosing Classes

In this final year, your child should be taking as many college prep and AP classes as they can handle. This may be fewer than the number of classes that are available. It’s important to do well and learn a lot in the senior year, but it’s also important not to burn out, so make sure your child has some balance. Identifying interests and what the child is likely to major in will make it easier to choose which advanced classes to concentrate on.

Choosing a School

You can also help your child choose a school. Beyond cost and course offerings, other things your child may want to consider are the school’s size, location and culture. College is about more than classes, and going to a school in the middle of Chicago or New York City is very different from attending a school in the Appalachian Mountains or rural Oregon. Try to pay a visit to the school, if possible, but if you can’t, you can learn a lot about it online. Find out such things as how many students live on campus and what kind of extracurricular activities are popular.

Stay Organized

Your child is old enough to take on primary responsibility for keeping up with deadline dates for various applications, but the costs of missing these deadlines are high, so you may want to act as backup. You could sit down together and figure out a system that includes reminders so that it’s difficult to lose track of when things need to happen.