Checklist: Parents Preparing for College

Preparing for college is something both you and your children should work toward. To make sure your children succeed, it’s very important you take an active role in helping them plan. The National Association for College Admission Counseling recommends parents start helping their children plan for college no later than middle school.

When you’re ready to help your children successfully prepare for college, there are several steps you should take.

Start Saving Money Immediately

Although college planning will begin in middle school, you need to start a college savings plan for your children as soon as possible. College tuition has skyrocketed in the past few decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, in the last 20 years, in-state tuition and fees at public schools have gone up 237 percent.

Since few people can afford these costs out of pocket, it’s wise to look into savings plans, such as a 529 plan. This tax-sheltered savings account is specifically reserved for saving and paying for college expenses.

Discuss Your College Expectations

Another step you can take to help your children prepare for college is to discuss the importance of higher education. Talk about different careers your children might be interested in and the need for a college education to enter those careers.

Help your children establish regular study times and habits that will help them down the road. Finally, keep a close eye on your children’s grades and regularly meet with their teachers to monitor their academic progress.

Encourage Your Children to Read

Reading is an excellent way for your children to start preparing for the ACT or SAT exam. Reading helps improve memory and makes analytical thinking skills stronger. Reading also helps improve vocabulary and writing skills, which are both major portions of these exams.

Encourage your children to read every day, especially in the summer when reading tends to drop off.

Help With the Subjects You’re Good At

Give your children assistance in the subjects you’re good at and find outside help for those you struggle with. If you’re a whiz at math but struggle with history, there’s no shame in telling your children that you don’t know the answers and setting them up with help elsewhere.

You can find assistance from your children’s teachers, enroll your children in peer study groups, or pay for a tutor to get them the help they need.

Think About Your Children’s High School

High school is the launching pad for college, so you want to make sure your children’s school can help. See if the high school your children will attend offers AP or honors courses that can help them when applying for college.

Also, find out what type of electives and extracurricular activities are available. If you don’t have other high school options, look into community resources, such as sports clubs and music groups, which can supplement what’s not offered at the school.

As your children get ready for college, you’ll play an active role in helping them prepare. With this checklist, you can make sure you’re helping them succeed.