10 Ways a Parent Can Help Their Student Prepare for College

Smiling father with his arm around his teenage son's shoulder.
As a parent, your involvement and support are invaluable in helping your high school child prepare for college. Here are 10 tips for success.

10 Ways a Parent Can Help Their Student Prepare for College

Published May 18, 2023

As a parent, your involvement and support are invaluable in helping your high school child prepare for college. Here are 10 tips for success.
Smiling father with his arm around his teenage son's shoulder.

Preparing for college can be an exciting yet challenging time for high school students. As a parent, your guidance and support play a crucial role in helping your child navigate this transition successfully. 

By taking an active role in their college preparation, you can empower them to make informed decisions and develop essential skills. Here are ten ways you can help your student get ready for college.

1. Encourage Academic Excellence

Emphasize the importance of education and motivate your child to excel academically. Encourage them to take challenging courses, maintain a strong GPA, and seek help when needed. Foster a positive attitude toward learning and highlight the long-term benefits of a solid education.

2. Foster Self-Discovery

College is an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Encourage your student to explore their interests and passions. Support their involvement in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, or volunteering. These experiences can help them discover their strengths, build leadership skills, and enhance their college applications.

3. Assist With College Research

Help your student research potential colleges and universities that align with their academic and personal goals. Explore factors like location, size, majors offered, campus culture, and financial aid options. Encourage them to attend college fairs, visit campuses, and connect with current students or alumni to gain insights.

Related: Tips for Researching Colleges

4. Guide the Application Process

The college application process can be overwhelming. Provide guidance on creating a timeline, organizing required documents, and meeting deadlines. Help your child brainstorm and edit their personal statement or college essay. Offer feedback, but remember to let their voice and experiences shine through.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About College Application Deadlines

5. Consider Taking the SAT or ACT

Test-optional has become the new normal in college admissions, but this doesn’t mean your student should rule out taking standardized tests. Even if your student is planning to apply to test-optional colleges, they should consider taking a sample SAT/ACT first, to see how they score without any preparation. 

If you both are satisfied with the outcome, your student can take the SAT or ACT to have an official test score. Having the score will give your student the option to include the score in college applications, in a case-by-case decision. If your student’s test score is above the college’s SAT/ACT average test score, your student should consider including their test scores if you both feel the score strengthens their application. 

If your student is not satisfied with the sample test score, they can decide to improve their score by doing test prep on their own, in a group class, or one-on-one with a tutor.

Related: Colleges That Ditched Test Scores for Admissions Find It’s Harder to Be Fair

Related: A Guide to When to Take the Sat or ACT

6. Promote Financial Literacy

College can be a significant financial investment. Teach your child about budgeting, saving, and responsible financial habits. Research scholarship opportunities together and explore financial aid options. Help them understand the implications of student loans and the importance of making informed financial decisions.

7. Develop Time Management Skills

Time management is crucial in college. Assist your child in developing effective organizational and time management skills. Encourage them to create a study schedule, prioritize tasks, and manage their commitments. Teach them how to balance academics, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and personal life effectively.

8. Cultivate Independence

College life requires a level of independence and self-reliance. Encourage your child to take on responsibilities at home, such as managing their own schedule, chores, and personal finances. Allow them to make decisions and learn from their mistakes while providing a safety net for support.

Related: Adulting 101: Essential Life Skills for Your Teen

9. Foster Strong Communication

Open lines of communication are essential during the college preparation process. Actively listen to your child’s concerns, aspirations, and fears. Be available to discuss college-related topics, assist with problem-solving, and provide emotional support. Encourage them to seek guidance from teachers, counselors, and mentors as well.

10. Encourage Healthy Habits

College life can be demanding, both physically and mentally. Help your student develop healthy habits that will contribute to their overall well-being. Encourage regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress management techniques. By prioritizing self-care, your child will be better equipped to handle the challenges of college life.

Related: Self-Care for Teenagers

Bottom Line

As a parent, your involvement and support are invaluable in helping your high school child prepare for college. Foster a nurturing and encouraging environment, provide guidance throughout the college application process, and help them develop the life skills to meet the challenge. 

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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.  

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE 101

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