Do you have a son or daughter that's getting ready to think about life after high school? They probably think the rest of their life hinges on their upcoming quest to find a college, and in a way, it does. But, it does not have to be overwhelming. Here is what you need to know to help them make the right decisions along the way.
First things first, you need to get your son or daughter signed up to take the SATs, ACTs, or possibly both. Look at the required testing for admission consideration for each school. Remember, it is better to over-test than under-test. If their chosen schools want to see either the ACT or the SAT, it may be a good idea to take both tests.
In fact, your son or daughter may want to take the tests more than once, since schools accept your highest scores. If your son or daughter scores higher on the math section and lower on the writing section, they can take the test again and use the highest score on each section to calculate their cumulative score. Since the tests are offered multiple times each year, it's best to start early and test often to get the best test scores you can. SAT and ACT prep classes are also available, and many helpful hints can be found online.
Your son or daughter should also start considering what their high school transcripts are going to do for their odds of acceptance during the admissions process. Adding an honors or advanced placement class, just so long as it will not damage them overall GPA if the class is too difficult for them, is a great idea. Encourage your child to get involved in student government or other extracurricular activities. Admissions departments love well-rounded applicants. Community service, hobbies and jobs can also count in your child's favor when it comes to extracurricular activities. However, make sure their grades stay top-notch while they are diversifying their interests.
The last variable in the college admissions process is in the admissions essay. This is the part of your son or daughter's application that lets admissions officers get to know them better as a person. It is critical that the essay has no grammar or punctuation mistakes. A great essay lets you hear the writer's voice clearly. It is best to have the essay proofread by a few different people, if possible. An English teacher and a guidance counselor would be ideal as proofreaders.
It is also important to remember one last vital element to the college admissions process: your emotional support as a parent. High school students have a lot of social pressure on their shoulders to begin with, and the college admissions process is a huge step in their lives. Make sure your son or daughter knows that they can turn to you for support, regardless of whether they're going to an Ivy League school or a community college. Your support will help them make the most out of their potential.