When I was asked if I had any advice about getting kids ready for college, I had to laugh. Do I? Do I EVER!
I mean, come on, I have five children, four currently in college. I could cry you a river.
One, because I miss them, and two, because the college process is a pain, and the first year is the hardest.
I don’t want to scare younger parents. But then again, it’s probably for the best. Go ahead, be afraid. Trust me, your kids won’t. They are worried about the game Friday night, not the Fafsa deadline for 2016.
My main advice is to get involved. I have both public schooled children and homeschooled children. I was actually more involved with my homeschool son’s progress for getting into college because I was worried that as a homeschooler, he would not get access to help that was available through the school system. I bugged him and we did sign up for test prep and did online planning. He ended up having a relatively easy process getting into school as a freshman.
Ironically, I assumed that my public schooled children would get tons of help through the guidance office. Frankly, they did not. They received some paperwork and notice about meetings that were, I thought, pretty useless. I was shocked. I’m not even sure why the school had an office door marked guidance office, that’s how little help they gave.
That all being said, kids do get into college. We are living proof the process did not kill us.
Also, for the record, I do expect a level of responsibility from my kids that not every parent does. I asked them to keep track of deadlines for taking the ACT, the SAT and for getting Fafsa forms filled out and for making sure they made the college deadlines for applications.
If I was able to go back in time and handle things a bit differently, here are a few things I would do:
- I would start to prepare earlier. As early as Freshman year.
- Find the websites that can help you and your child. Sites like the KapMap can track progress and warn you about upcoming deadlines.
- I would sign myself up (not just the kids) to look at more of the planning tools and deadlines, so I knew exactly what to ask the kids about. Sometimes I was more okay with just looking at the big picture, when we needed to get into the minutia.
- I would schedule times to talk with the kids about what was going on specifically about college. Talk about what each child was doing to handle the college process. Sometimes, one child would be waiting for us to, say, write a check for a test.
- I would be meaner about them getting things done.
But even with some things that we could not have done differently in the mix, I know that following a process, akin to what KapMap seems to be, would be helpful.
In looking at the KapMap, I like how specific it is. The KapMap gives you suggestions and clickable links for getting ready for college beginning with your freshman year.
You will find details on things like:
PSAT, Financial Aid Deadlines, ACT and SAT’s, Key College Admissions Factors, Campus Visiting Checklists, Taking AP Exams and more.
I spoke with my son and showed him the KapMap. He thought it was very concise and did a video on his thoughts:
Life is getting more difficult, I believe, and following directions DOES matter. While you can “over” worry, in general, I would say that our most difficult times were because a child missed a deadline and it did cause a problem.
I am including a link to the KapMap for other parents and students to check out.
And, I’m happy to share a special code with my readers!
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