College Admissions

You’ve made it to the home stretch. After nearly 18 years of parenting and over a decade of education, your child is finally ready for their final year in high school. While this is an exciting time, it can be a stressful one as well. With college application deadlines, standardized tests, and personal statements (essays) on the horizon, you may be wondering what you can do to help your student over the summer. As your teen becomes more and more independent, you may feel like they don’t need you as much, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As they enter the summer months before their last year of high school, there is a lot to think about, and parents can play a vital role in helping their students succeed. Here are some suggestions:

Create a Schedule Together

While summer days may be slow and unstructured, a year of deadlines and commitments is just around the corner. In keeping up with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, application and scholarship deadlines, there is a lot to think about. While that may seem overwhelming, anticipating some of the deadlines can help you manage them better. Sit down with your teen and create a calendar of important dates and deadlines. Make plans to check in with each other on a weekly basis to go over deadlines and self-imposed goals and commitments. Finally, post your calendar – whether it be virtually, on an app or a physical calendar posted in your home.

Go Over Your Own Finances and Get Them Organized

For most families, cost is a significant concern when it comes to college, and your finances will be scrutinized when your teen fills out applications for financial aid and scholarships. While they don’t need to be involved in this step, you must ensure that all information and documentation is ready when he or she needs it. Familiarize yourself with college costs and the FAFSA application for aid so that you can figure out what your teen will need. Create a budget and stick to it. Start saving for additional expenses and have a frank conversation with your teen about finances – including what, if any, expenses they will need to cover. Make sure they have their own account and know how to save money and budget it.

Instill Financial Responsibility

Managing finances is a big part of going out on your own. That’s why it’s important for parents to have frank conversations about finances with their teens. Lay out a plan for who will be covering specific expenses. Who will be paying for books, meals out, and other entertainment? Will your teen need to contribute to these and other expenses? It’s important to come up with a financial plan so that no one will be surprised next year. Helping teens develop and adhere to budgets is important, as is saving money. If they don’t have bank accounts yet, be sure to set them up as soon as possible so that they can get used to managing their own money. To develop financial intelligence, they will need to have finances to manage.

Encourage Social Media Responsibility

If you haven’t already had a conversation with your teen about social media, now is the time to do it. Admissions committees and future employers can and do look at social media accounts. Even if they don’t do this on a regular basis, they will most definitely follow up if they are alerted to inappropriate posts, images, or behaviors. Teens need to conduct themselves online as if they were in a public space, because social media is a social space where people are observing their behavior.

Nothing online is private. To check on this, plan on Googling your teen and even yourself on a regular basis to see what comes up. Everyone needs to know what pops up when people search them. Also, make sure that your teen understands that he or she can be judged by the company they keep. Following controversial sites or people can have an impact on what people think about us, so being mindful of our associations is also important. On a positive note, encourage your teen to use social media to his or her advantage. For instance, they can start using LinkedIn and other sites to network, or even write blogs about their community service experiences.

Parenting a college-bound teen can be challenging, but a lot of stress can be headed off at the pass by observing these steps to prepare them for college and beyond. At Moxie College Counseling, we are experienced when it comes to preparation – not just testing, applications, essays, and interviews – but everyday steps towards living independently. In fact, we even have specialists who can help students navigate the first year of college. Give us a call for more information.