Parents, before you know it, your child will be starting their first day of college!
Set your child up for success by sharing with them some practical knowledge.
Help them to understand how to establish and live by a budget.
Decide who is paying for what: dorm or rent, meals, books, transportation, phone service, insurance (health and car), spending money.
Set up a bank account with a debit and/or credit card. Talk about payment options, including late fees, finance charges and the importance of paying on time in order to begin to establish a strong credit rating.
Create mobile payment accounts such as Venmo and Zelle.
Give your child a copy of their health/prescription/dental identification card and make a list of contact info for their primary care physician, any specialists and dentist.
Locate a pharmacy local to school and help your child transfer any prescriptions to the new pharmacy.
If you would like to have access to your child’s medical information from new physicians they see on or off campus, ask your son or daughter to remember to sign a HIPAA release form.
If your student will be preparing some or all of their meals, review how to shop for groceries and how to prepare basic foods.
Teach your son or daughter how to sew on a button, and even how to iron a shirt or pair of pants.
Going off to college is a major event. As you prepare to go away, here are some suggestions for what you can do to get ready:
Choose your freshman classes. Think about what you’d like to learn and also consider course requirements. Read more about specific classes by looking through the course syllabus online to confirm you’re interested in what the instructor plans to cover.
Understand your tuition payment options. Some schools offer plans allowing you to spread out your payments.
If you have been awarded work study as part of your financial aid package inquire about how to apply for on and off-campus jobs.
If your parents’ health insurance covers you at college, make sure to opt out of the school’s coverage before the deadline.
Make a budget. Have a conversation with your parents to work out what they will be paying for and what you will be responsible for.
Set up a bank account and apply for a debit and/or credit card.
Schedule your physical and make sure you have any required immunizations. As your doctor to complete all required forms and make sure you submit them on time.
Some schools assign specific move-in dates and times to their students. Make sure you’re aware of any designated schedule. Move-in often takes longer than expected. Decide if your parents will be staying over and, if so, make hotel reservations.
Schools often provide programming and events for parents during the move-in day(s). Don’t forget to ask your parents to sign up for events they may be interested in attending.
Fall/Homecoming weekend is probably one of the busiest weekends at school and the surrounding community be sure to make hotel and dinner reservations now so your family is not scrambling at the last minute.
With all the recent changes in testing requirements, you may not be sure whether you should plan to take the ACT or SAT. Talk to your parents and guidance counselor to decide what’s best for you. If you choose to take standardized tests, summer is a good time to put together a test prep plan.
Begin by choosing the test that’s best for you. There are differences between the SAT and the ACT, including the format, material being tested and scoring. Students often find one test is more or less challenging than the other.
To get your best score possible, develop a personal test taking strategy. The best way to do this is to get comfortable with the test format and learn how to pace yourself and manage your timing. Take as many practice tests as you can in a quiet place without distractions, and with a timer set, to simulate the real test conditions.
Regardless of how you plan to prepare — on your own, in a group class or with a tutor, be sure to take advantage of the many free tests available through the resources listed below.
College Board offers free official online SAT practice tests. Your answers will be scored at the end of your test, and there’s a timer to help keep you on track.
College Boards also offers free paper practice tests which you can download and print. These tests give you the chance to get comfortable filing in the grids as you will under real test conditions.
Test prep companies, including Kaplan, The Princeton Review and Peterson’s offer free practice tests, both online and at their test centers. You’ll be required to register and provide your contact information to have access to the tests.
If you haven’t already made plans for your summer break, it’s not too late. This is an opportunity to see where your interests for the future lie. Look into finding a job, an internship or volunteer. You may also consider taking a class either at a local school or online.
Regardless of what you decide to do, consider the following when making your plans:
Make it your goal to acquire new skills or deepen ones you already have.
Get things done that have been on your “to do” or “try this” list.
Challenge yourself to learn something new and discover what you do and don’t like.
Whether you decide to work, volunteer, study or play, take time over the summer break to focus on your college application process.
Rising seniors, get a head start on your applications. Work on your essay(s) this summer without the pressures of keeping up with schoolwork. Come fall, you’ll be able to focus on school visits, finalizing your list of schools and completing your applications.
Here’s how to get started on your essay(s):
Open your Common App account, if you don’t already have one. Then read the essay prompts so you can begin thinking about what you’d like to write about.
Look through the websites for schools you’re considering to confirm their essay requirements. Some require their own supplemental essays in addition to the Common App essays.
Give admissions reps a reason to remember who you are and an incentive to advocate for your candidacy. Write an essay that reveals a side of yourself that isn’t evident in your transcript or test scores.
A topic that’s ordinary and everyday can help tell your own unique story if you do it in a thoughtful way. It’s not the topic, but how you relate that topic to your life circumstances that’s important.
Your essay should be well written and convey your own voice. It’s okay to seek out help from a proof reader, but make sure your essay is in your own words. Admissions officers want to hear what you have to say, not your parent or teacher or mentor.
In addition to your essays, continue to study if you’ll be taking any standardized tests and update your list of extracurriculars.
Rising juniors, summer’s a great time for you to begin your college process. Research schools, think about a test schedule and begin preparing, and start a comprehensive list of your activities and achievements to be used on the Common App.
A few thoughts if you’re scheduled to take tomorrow’s SAT.
To minimize your stress tomorrow morning, it’s a great idea to get organized ahead of time. The last thing you need on test morning is a desperate scramble. These are some of the things you can do tonight to get your big day off to a great start:
First, check with your parents to make sure they know when and where you’re scheduled to take the test, and arrange how you’ll get to the test center. Next, gather and pack all the things you’ll need to take with you. Some of the things on this check list are “must-have” items, while others are optional.
REQUIRED: Don’t forget any of the following items or it will be a long ride home!
Seniors, don’t let anything disrupt your college bound plan. Complete your high school requirements, stay focused and take care of this to-do list before you go off to college:
Thank those who’ve provided support and helped you throughout your college process. Write a note to your guidance or college counselors, recommendation writers and anyone else who has guided you along the way. Let your supporters know what your plans are for next fall and express your appreciation for all their efforts.
Request that your high school send your final school report or transcript to your college.
Review your financial aid details and follow up on any loose ends. Review your payment plan options and make sure your first payment is submitted on time
Be sure to complete any roommate surveys or requests and submit your housing forms on time.
Be on the lookout for any orientation programs offered and register on time for fall classes.
Sort through your college admission materials and save the following: final copy of each of your essays on your computer or back-up device, or print a hard copy, print a copy of your completed Common App because your online account will become inactive, your test score report(s), your transcript, important school work you may want to use if asked for samples.
Hold on to an updated list of activities and awards or honors to help you create your resume when needed.
Complete any summer reading or pre-semester assignments.
Summer is approaching and you’re probably thinking of all the fun things you’re going to do: meet your friends at the beach, sleep late, swim, travel, summer BBQs with family… Summer is also a good time to explore your interests and also try new things. This is an opportunity to discover what you enjoy doing and how you can get involved. You may already have plans, but if you don’t, now is the time to consider looking into finding a job, an internship or a volunteer opportunity.
Start by stopping into your guidance office. They may have a list of resources and interesting positions, and also may know of postings. Check social media for postings as well. Your public library and local community center are also good places to continue your search.
You may also consider taking a class either at a local school or online. Choose an academic subject of particular interest or opt into something just for fun.
Regardless of what you decide to do, consider the following when making your plans:
Look to build new skills or deepen ones you already have
Be productive and get things done that have been on your “to do” or “try this” list
Juniors, recommendation letters are required by most colleges as part of your application. Think about which teachers know you best and ask them to write a letter on your behalf. Try to“ make this request in person, if possible.
Here’s how to request the best recommendations:
Ask before your summer break begins. Many teachers receive more requests than they can fulfill, so by asking in advance, you’ll be able to confirm they are able put you on their list.
Most colleges require a minimum of two letters of recommendation from your teachers and one from your guidance counselor. If possible, ask primary subject teachers from junior or senior year.
A recommendation will be more valuable if written by a teacher who knows what kind of learner you are.
Help your recommenders to write the most effective letters. Give them an outline of the highlights of your time spent in their classroom, your favorite assignments and samples of your work. Also, let them know what you enjoy(ed) most about their class. Share any experiences outside the classroom that are relevant to their subject matter. Help them write a letter that ties together all your related experiences.
Ask directors of special programs you’ve had a meaningful involvement in, such as science research or athletics, to write an additional letter on your behalf. These letters help admissions reps get a better understanding of who you are and what you’re likely to contribute to their classrooms and campus community.
When you get back to school in the fall, confirm with your writers. Once you know where you’re applying, give each recommender a list of your schools and the application deadlines and they will, most likely, submit their letters electronically.
Make a list of the schools you are applying to and keep track of your recommendations. Jot down the date you made your request and check online or with the colleges as the process progresses to confirm their receipt of your recommendation letters.
JUNIORS, beginning your college search process may seem like an overwhelming task. There are many free resources to help you get started and allow you to explore the many options available. By using these tools you will be be able to narrow down your search and focus in on the type of school that interests you.
COLLEGE FAIRS: College fairs are a great way to start your search. You’ll have the chance to get exposed to a large number of colleges and universities all in one place and meet admissions reps from a long list of schools.
COLLEGE GUIDES: College guides offer an easy way to review and compare basic facts such as GPA, SAT and ACT ranges, course requirements, tuition, study body demographics and feedback from students.
COLLEGE WEBSITES: College websites provide detailed info about a school’s student body, required curriculum, courses of study, tuition and financial aid, housing and extracurriculars. You’ll also find online photo galleries and virtual tours.
ONLINE PLATFORMS: Online search platforms such as NAVIANCE, SCOIR and MaiaLearning are accessible to students in subscribing high schools. These tools present admissions outcomes for graduates from the same high school, allowing current students the opportunity to compare their credentials (GPA and test scores) with those of previous applicants.
Although each of these resources are helpful, don’t rely exclusively on only one. Take your time and be thorough so you can learn about all the options available and what will work best for you in a college or university.