Preparing for college is one of those moments in life that you and your child look forward too, often for very different reasons.

college fund

Even though your offspring may be ready to leave the nest, they could still use your help preparing for college and for life beyond high school.

Preparing for college starts long before you child puts on their cap and gown and celebrates with their friends at graduation. While independence may be on your child’s mind, there are some important steps you can take together before the big move to campus.

Choosing a Path

The first decision you and your child will have to make is what your post high school options are. Your basic choices are: a two or four-year college or university, a community college, a technical school, or a junior college. This decision can be put off for a while, but they should have an idea of which type of school they plan to attend by the start of their junior year. This way you and your child have a specific goal in sight. 

Preparing for College Academically 

Other than encouraging your child to do their homework and pay attention in class, you can also encourage them to take college-level courses and standardized tests as early as possible. In most schools, you can start taking these tests during your junior year. This allows your child to boost their score when they take it again senior year. As for college-level courses, doing well in these classes can earn your child course credit that can be used to skip some intro college courses. 

Develop a Plan 

Planning for college should start with regular meetings with your child’s guidance counselor in high school. See where your child stands academically and what can be done to make improvements, if necessary. Bring your child into the discussion and make a collective decision on post-high school goals. You can also get all the forms you need for financial aid from the guidance counselor, along with plenty of advice to help you further prepare. 

Preparing for College Financially 

Financial planning is the earliest type of college planning you can do for your child. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of college – including tuition, room and board, and related fees – is nearly $20,000. Clearly, the sooner you start a college savings account, the better. You want to start applying for scholarships at least during junior year. The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is available online. This form must be filled out to qualify for most state and federal aid. You can start submitting this form on January 1st of any given year, with June 30th as the deadline. 

Preparing for College Life on Campus 

The final step in preparing your child for college is helping them get stuff together for the trip to campus. This can usually be accomplished by a quick trip to Walmart or Target. Some of the basic items most college freshmen should have include: • Weather-specific clothing • Microwave, mini-fridge • Desk lamp • Cellphone • Health insurance information, immunization records

Preparing for college can be a daunting task, especially when you consider what the cost of college is likely to be when your child is ready to go.

Aside from financial preparation, you want to make sure you work your child’s teachers and guidance counselor to ensure that they are on the right track 

Aside from financial preparation, you want to make sure you work with your child’s teachers and guidance counselor to ensure that they are on the right track academically. Once you get these two things figured out, you should be all set. Getting Junior or Princess to call home more often is entirely up to you. 

Tasha Matsamoto is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide with a focus on online education opportunities. Several schools offer online education degrees, including Marylhurst University and Rutgers University. academically. Once you get these two things figured out, you should be all set. Getting Junior or Princess to call home more often is entirely up to you.