13 August 2019

How to Help Teenagers Plan for College

College planning can be a stressful experience, both for teens and parents. It’s something that many teens have a hard time conceptualizing. And if they struggle to see exactly where they’re going with their future, it can have an impact on their studies and happiness in the present.

For parents, that makes it vital to help your child prepare for college, which admittedly can be a challenge. It requires knowing your teen well, providing them constant support, and putting your own hopes to the side. Teens generally need help visualizing the process of going to college, and one of the best things a parent can do is to provide that roadmap for their kids. Here’s what you can do to prepare your teen for the future.

Taking the Necessary Exams


Test scores are one of the most vital aspects of the college application process and it should also be the first goal for your child to focus on. Impressive scores on the SAT or ACT can not only get students accepted into their college of choice, but they also can earn financial aid for choosing certain schools.

That can get complicated in a hurry, however. The key here is that you know test scores are important, so focus on helping provide your teen the resources to excel in their first few high school years. Some teens do well studying in groups; others learn better from tutors who specialize in standardized test preparation. There are also online college prep courses that can be a massive help.

Another way to prep for college is by taking as much Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment classes as your child can handle. These classes are not only a great way to become adjusted to college-level work but can be transferred over to your child’s future college as credits. You may end up having to pay less out of pocket for college and your child may graduate earlier. 

Deciding on a College and Major

There are hundreds and hundreds of options when it comes to college, from traditional four-year colleges to junior college, private colleges, and everything in between. The easiest way to start eliminating some options is to consult with your teen: What do they envision when they think of going to college?

A good way to begin the search is to pick a few colleges to visit. Campuses generally hold tours where you can meet some of the faculty and ask questions, which can help immensely. This is also where fields of study start to become an issue. What does your teen enjoy doing in their free time? Is there a way to combine that with a profession?

This can also something to work towards before the senior year of high school. Encourage your child’s interests and help them to get involved with them in a more meaningful way. For instance, if your child loves caring for others, allow him/her to volunteer at the local hospital. Those experiences go a long way in helping someone to see if they’d like something as a job.

Making Smart Decisions

No matter how intelligent or even-mannered a teen might be, the truth is that they are going to be lacking the experience to make smart decisions at all times. That’s the big issue with the initial college process; they might make an impulsive decision simply because they didn’t know that they ought to consider certain elements. That’s why it’s so crucial for a parent to support them during the decision-making process.

While you should not decide for your child, it is best to make meaningful suggestions during the process. Some topics to consider are whether your child wants to go to graduate school, what majors are offered, the percentage of graduated students, and the financial aid. These factors can all make a difference in your child’s future college journey.

Give Your Child Unconditional Support

There may come a time when you may not be fully on board with your child’s decision, such as switching his/her major or taking a gap year. Avoid discouraging your child from following the decision and instead offer advice. College can be one of the most challenging periods in life for students as they are dealing with being independent, working towards their careers, and being in a new environment. Little support from home can often cause a student to feel lost and perhaps abandoned by their loved ones. Be supportive of their choices and offer sound advice when the situation rises! That will ensure that your child is well on his/her way to his dream career.

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