Planning early for college can save you money and help ensure your student’s success.
As the parent of a high school student, college is one of the most significant decisions that you and your child will make. Paying for college is the second largest investment for families behind home buying. After all, you want to feel comfortable with your family’s choices about college as you settle into the empty nest and begin enjoying the next chapter of your lives.
College planning can help your student find the best college.
Most high school students in the US do not get personal attention when it comes to making one of the most important decisions of their lives. The average high school counselor serves 300 students, but your student deserves more attention. By starting to plan now, you can improve your student’s chances of finding and getting in to the right school for them.
Here are things that you can do:
Start early– Begin planning freshman and sophomore year with your student to develop their talents and interests. Colleges want to see leadership and depth in a student’s out-of-class involvement. This doesn’t mean that they have to do a lot of different activities. The best is to focus and start at the beginning of high school. By starting early your student can develop leadership and depth, rather than breadth. Colleges form a well-rounded class by choosing individuals with depth in their activities and interests.
Identify key strengths—is your student a community-builder? An inventor? An entertainer? Nurturing and developing special talents takes insight and understanding about what colleges are looking for. Some want poets, others want dancers or musicians. Working with your student to develop their unique talents should be an organic and natural process. By reviewing the credentials of accepted students you can gain insights into what different colleges are looking for. USA Today sponsors a yearly high school competition that shows the backgrounds of those students who are accepted to top colleges. Keep in mind that for some competitive colleges this may include national and state competitions and prizes, such as the Intel Science Competition or playing an instrument in a local junior symphony.
Become knowledgeable about college admissions trends—dance for example. Among the usual performing arts that students take part in outside of class, dance is now one of the most sought after with college admission offices around the country. For the first time, a number of colleges are reporting dance statistics among accepted students. Pomona and Occidental Colleges in Los Angeles now record the number of accepted students involved in dance among their freshman class profiles (5% to 8% of freshman classes). Echoing this trend, construction is underway on new dance studios at Vassar College –one that seats 244 people and new facilities have been built at Emory University in Atlanta, Hamilton College in NY, University of New Mexico and Tufts University in Boston.
Seek advice from an expert—By working with a qualified college consultant to plan ahead, you can not only improve your student’s chances of getting into the college of their dreams, but of paying for it as well. Families who start freshman or sophomore working with a college consultant, improve their chances of finding merit money. Getting a merit award may come down to something as simple as the fact that a college needs a cellist or soccer player.
For Empty Nesters-to-be, and especially those experiencing COVID-19’s economic impact, important decisions about college admission loom on the horizon. The good news is that you can relax because there are steps you can take to eliminate stress, save money and protect your nest egg.
David Montesano is an admission strategist with College Match US. For a free copy of “Ten Strategic College Admission Steps” go to www.collegematchus.com or send an email to [email protected]