5 Strategies We Used to Prepare Our Kids to Succeed

5 secrets to getting into college

5 Strategies We Used to Prepare Our Kids to Succeed

Published March 12, 2020 | Last Updated December 30th, 2023 at 04:14 pm

5 secrets to getting into college

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

This is insider information that I’ve never publicly shared before.

Only my friends and relatives have heard these very simple tactics that we use to prepare our six kids to succeed beyond our wildest expectations. 

We feel that because of the implementation of these basic strategies, our kids were set on a course to succeed in high school, get accepted to a number of good colleges, and then be in positions to be offered scholarships.

How Did We Do This?

As you can imagine, we get asked “How?” a lot.

I assure you, it didn’t happen by accident. 

People often think we must have enrolled them in fancy prep schools, signed them up for summer enrichment camps, or paid private tutors, but we didn’t.

We used five simple, uncomplicated tactics that don’t cost much more than sustained effort.

Our goal was to ensure that our kids’ high school transcripts had mostly As on them, knowing that high grades and test scores open doors of opportunity.

So we looked for ways to ensure better grades that wouldn’t overly stress the children about maintaining their GPAs.

This shouldn’t be a secret. In fact, I am convinced that a lot of people do this.

Almost anyone could, and could probably do much more.  

Our Five Secrets to Getting Accepted Into College

  •  Read Ahead

Whether it’s middle school, high school, or college, our kids read at least a chapter ahead in each of their school textbooks.

While they don’t necessarily understand everything in their cursory read-through, it puts them WAY ahead of their peers.

As a result of their pre-read, they’re able to ask insightful questions in class, and they have a basic understanding of the material by the time the class covers what they’ve already pre-read.

  • Rewrite Notes

Like everyone else, they take notes in class, however they also rewrite them into a different notebook that very evening – or as soon as they have time.

Just the act of rewriting class notes as soon as possible after the lecture is a way of automatically studying.

The act of going over and reliving what they just learned in class enriches their understanding.

And if after rewriting their notes, they discover something they still don’t understand, they can ask pertinent follow-up questions in the next class or during office hours. .

  • Paper Planners

Yes, in this age of technology, my kids use old-school paper planners. They color-code events and deadlines with different colored ink and post-its, and then they put reminders in their cell phones.

This enables them to know what they’re supposed to be doing and when they planned to do it.

This one tactic is the key to their seldom missing deadlines and avoiding the last-minute stress of trying to finish an assignment by a deadline.

Two of my six kids have ADHD, and organizational redundancies allow them to succeed academically at the highest level while keeping down their stress levels.

My neurotypical kids find the paper planners enormously beneficial as well. 

  • Flash Cards

More old-school tools…good, old-fashioned flash cards and note cards STILL work!

In fact, my kids have told me that random classmates who see them studying their flashcards in the cafeteria or during free periods inevitably approach them, asking to study with their cards.

Almost without fail, a small group of classmates ends up congregating around them, asking to join in their group, study quizzing each other before any exam.

To their surprise, those little index cards turned out to be icebreakers to making good friends. This was an unexpected, and wonderful outcome. 

  • Positive Screen Time

Your child being online doesn’t always have to be the worst thing in the world.

Each of our kids uses educational apps, and does some of their studying online making use of available resources. They use YouTube tutorials, Quizlet, or anything else that helps them prepare for tests.

For essays or papers, they use Grammarly and anti plagiarism software to ensure they haven’t missed any citations and that their grammar is correct.

Making tech work for them is a godsend.

And that’s really it. Those are our 5 Simple Secrets to getting our kids in a position to be offered sizable academic scholarships.

Start with the end in mind. 

I bet you were wondering how our strategies worked. So here at last, are the results of our (and their) “labor” :

The Kids Who Benefit From Our Strategies

1. Our oldest has a full-tuition merit scholarship at our State University.

2. The next is at an Ivy League college studying Electrical Engineering, Mathematics,  and Computer Science.

3. The next has a full-ride scholarship at a private college, and graduated high school at 16.

4. The next has almost a full-tuition scholarship and also graduated high school at 16. 

5. The next is an 8th grader with straight As, the highest PSAT8/9 score in his school, and is the president of his middle school. 

6. Our youngest is in 5th grade and is still homeschooled. (So it’s still a little early to quantify her outcomes.)

It is under these circumstances, (with four kids in four different colleges and two still at home) that my husband and I find ourselves paying just a few thousand per year in total for four kids in college.

And for this year, none of them had to take Stafford loans.


Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

Achieving a Good Score on the SAT: How the Test Works and Tips for Success

The Common App Guide: How It Works, How to Use It, and Tips for Success

Navigating College Prep on Social Media: The Pitfalls of Comparing Your Child’s Journey




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