The road to college is like a long journey; it requires both care and advance planning. Here are the first five steps you can take to ensure a successful college career for your child.
Foster a culture of learning
Various studies show that children raised in homes where learning is a way of life have a greater chance of succeeding in school, from the early stages through college. And you, as a parent, are responsible for creating such an environment from the beginning. Read to your child from a young age and stock your home with books and learning materials. Give him room for fun and creativity. This does not mean that you should buy him expensive toys or provide him with a space dedicated to these educational purposes, but rather give him the flexibility that allows him to have fun and explore his world through a sheet of paper or a visit to the park.
Encourage extracurricular activities
Colleges pay close attention to applicants’ extracurricular activities and not just the usual ones like sports teams or academic clubs. In middle school, and especially in high school, encourage your child to get involved in meaningful activities after school, on the weekend, and throughout the summer. Above all, those that relate to your interests or future desires. Similarly, your child can participate in art, music, writing, photography, public speaking, etc. competitions. Activities and awards have been shown to positively impact college applications, and can also help your child develop discipline and self-confidence. National non-profit organizations like VolunteerMatch and United We Serve are great places to start.
Pay attention to grades
Your child’s grade point average is probably the most important factor in the college admissions process. Therefore, it is important to earn and maintain good grades, rather than waiting until your junior or senior year of high school to improve your grades. The best approach? Work with your child throughout the process, not just when things go wrong. By maintaining an active (and non-oppressive) presence, you will avoid or manage crises as they arise.
Enroll him in college classes or tuition before starting college
Exposing your child to rigorous academic content in high school is important for two reasons. It will help your child prepare for academic activities at college and show you if your child is ready for them (or needs extra help in a subject). The two most common ways to experience college-level classes in high school is through Advanced Placement (AP) classes and concurrent enrollment, a more direct method where high school students can attend college classes with teachers from the local universities. Check with your local high school and college counselor about available options. You can also engage IGCSE tuition for your children to get prepared,
Begin college planning during the summer leading up to the junior year of high school
The last stretch to college actually begins when teens enter their junior year of high school. The summer or fall leading up to that year is the ideal time to have your child’s first college session. This includes deciding when to take the college admissions tests (PSAT, SAT, and ACT). Also, it might also be time to start researching colleges that might be of interest to your child. If the process seems intimidating, you are not alone! It’s complicated, but starting planning before junior year in high school is a big step in helping your child get started on the process.