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SIMPLE ways to get ready for college during High School
By Cecilia E. Johnston JD, College Applications Educator
With colleges and universities getting increasingly difficult to get into, it is more important than ever for parents to learn about the process and help their student get into the college or university that is best for them with as low a stress level as possible. Here are some tips for you and your student.
Encourage your child to read, read, read. High school classes and college entrance examinations and college applications require excellent vocabulary and writing skills.
Attend cultural events, go to museums, get out of Ventura and visit other places. It is fun and your student needs a broad base of experiences and viewpoints to draw from to make connections in class discussions, writing assignments and college entrance essays.
Subscribe to the newspaper. For less than $15 per month, your child will improve their vocabulary, reading comprehension and learn about current and past events. Even better, read together and talk about it!
Educate your student and yourself about colleges and universities.
Sign up for the parent newsletter and “SAT Problem of the DAY” at www.collegeboard.org.
Visit colleges when you go on vacation.
Attend college fairs. There are even online college fairs.
Explore college websites.
Attend Parent Information Nights at your high school and others in the area.
Use your high school’s college and career center. The staff is knowledgeable and very willing to help. For example: go to http://www.foothilltechnology.org/ and click on Media Center or Counseling for websites chock full of valuable and up-to-date college information.
Be an involved parent. If you contribute your time to your child’s school, the staff recognizes it—you and your child will get more attention. On the flip side—don’t hover—your child needs to make some mistakes but educate yourself so they make the ‘right’ mistakes—not the ones that might jeopardize their academic future.
Get to know the teachers and counselors—don’t just communicate when things are bad, let them know that you appreciate their efforts—you are a team.
Schedule a yearly “state of the student” meeting with you, your student and your student’s counselor.
Make sure that your student is on track to fulfill the A-G requirements. These are the classes your student must take to be college ready. The UC’s and Cal State schools only accept “C” and above grades. No “D’s”!
Participation in Honors and AP classes is a plus. Colleges want to see that your student has challenged him or herself. Most colleges would rather accept a student who got a “B” in an AP or Honors class than an “A” in regular college prep classes.
You can always request that your child be placed into higher level classes if your child demonstrates the ability to do the work.
Work with your counselors/staff—BUT above all, be realistic. Your child’s talents may not lie in academia.
Celebrate your child’s achievements—find areas where they are successful. Most colleges are looking for “well-rounded” students, not just brainiacs.
If your child is having difficulty with a class, there are tutoring programs available. Ask your child’s counselor for assistance, the sooner, the better.
VERY IMPORTANT: To be on the college preparatory track, your student should take either Algebra 1 or Algebra 1A in 8th grade. (Algebra 1 is a one year course; Algebra 1A and 1B take two years to complete.)
Community Service: Even if your school doesn’t require it, colleges are looking at whether your student is giving back to your community.
Check the school website and your student's grades online often. (Be careful - checking grades online should be used as a tool, not a bludgeon.) Understand that some teachers just don’t post grades online in a timely fashion or even at all.
Calendar, calendar, calendar and try to model organization for your children.
If your child doesn’t appear to have homework, take a closer look. The amount of homework that your child will be responsible for will increase every year and it is a rare weeknight that doesn’t include some homework.
Have family dinner once a week; talk to your student on the way to and from school—do simple things that keep communication open.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, be there for your child. Contrary to what they may tell you, your student needs you at his or her side as a confidant, motivator, cheerleader, stress-reducer and advocate during the high school years.
Copyright 2011-18 Cecilia E. Johnston May be reproduced for educational purposes only.
Visiting a college? Taking a virtual tour? Use this worksheet (pdf) or (Word version) to gather information and note your impressions of the school.
Utilize this brag sheet to gather all your important information into one place, or to provide to those writing your letters of recommendation.
Financial Aid Award Package Comparison Worksheet
Download this Excel worksheet to compare your financial aid offers. This worksheet has formulas built in to calculate your financial aid offers. The cells containing formulas are locked to prevent accidental deletion, however these cells can be accessed by clicking "Unprotect Sheet" (Review tab), if needed. If you prefer to print and use a pencil, we recommend using our pdf version.
Cecilia E. Johnston, JD, College Applications Educator, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Proceeds from this program are used to offset the costs of workshops for lower-income families.