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How to get teen into college

Step #1:  Make the Decision:

While the decision to attend college belongs to your teenager, your role plays a huge part in whether or not this is the path he will take. You guide your teenager through his childhood into
his adulthood making suggestions and helping with decisions along the way. If you want your teen to go to college, chances are he’s going to college.

Because this is a major decision, start by taking some reflection time, then talk to your teen. This way you and your teen are on the same page when it comes to attending college.

Step #2:  Taking the Right Courses for College:

It is very important for your teenager to be taking the right courses in high school. S/He will need four years of math, science, history and English. S/He will also need to take a 2nd language for 2 or 3 years - depending on the college s/he wishes to attend. You'll need to work with your teenager's school to be sure s/he is getting all of the right courses offered to her/him for college preparation.

Your teen should also take a look at extracurricular activities such as being involved with a community organization, in sports or being involved in a student club. These are all things colleges will look for on the application.

Step #3:  Making the Grade:

Education needs to be a priority in your teen's life. Colleges pay very close attention not only to your teen's grades in school, but also to the attitude your teenager has about school. Promoting a positive school experience in high school benefits your teen. They will have a great attitude about learning and it will show through on their college application and in the college interview. So remember, while good grades help, an A+ attitude toward learning will get your teen into the college of her/his choice.

Step #4: Choose Which Colleges to Apply:

Never apply to just one college; you'll be wasting your teen's time. Be sure to apply to at least two if not more. This will give your teen not only a back up plan should s/he not get into the first college of her/his choice, but it will also give her/him some wiggle room should s/he change her/his mind about where s/he wants to attend.

Step #5: Acing the SAT and SAT II:

There is only one way to ace these tests – prepare, prepare, prepare! Enroll your teen into an SAT preparatory class. Buy books and host study groups – complete with pizza. Allow your teen to take the test more than once. While a lower grade on these test will not keep your teen from attending college completely, a higher grade will get her/him into the college of her/his choice and can help with scholarship funding.

Question: When should my teen take the PSAT?

Answer: The PSAT - the Preliminary SAT - is taken so that your teen can gain the experience of taking a college admissions test, the SAT I. It is not used for college applications or in any other way. Therefore, your teen should take it in the spring of his sophomore year or in the fall of his junior year, depending on when s/he plans to take his SAT I.

Step #6: Filling Out a Successful Application:

When your teen receives an application to one of the colleges of her/his choice, s/he’ll need to do some preliminary work before filling it. Encourage her/him to read the entire application over and take notes on what s/he needs to gather up in order to answer all of the questions. S/He may need to ask for teacher recommendations, make copies of awards or class certificates, etc. Have her/him answer the entire set of questions on a separate piece of paper first, so that s/he can go over her/his answers and make any changes s/he feels is necessary without ruining the application paper.

Step #7: Paying for a College Degree:

A college education costs quite a bit of money and is often one of the biggest expenses parents and college students have to incur. You can, however, receive help for college costs. This help comes in the form of grants, scholarships and student loans. While, it may take some time paying off a college degree, it is the finest investment anyone can make. Please see the financial aid/scholarship information section of this website for more details regarding financial aid for college.

How to talk to your teen about a career:

Thinking about a future career can bring a lot of stress. Figuring out what s/he is going to do with this ‘future’ is such a vast undertaking that wrapping his brain around it can seem too daunting. Parents, caregivers, foster parents need to learn to help their teen conquer this hefty question by dropping seeds of conversation as time goes by and watch them grow into ideas. This chops up the question into workable issues that you and your teen can enjoy dealing with throughout their teen years.

Here’s how:

1. In your child’s life there are times when they are given the opportunity to see and/or discuss a certain career. Schools have Career Day, an aunt or uncle talk about what they do for a living or your teen’s youth group goes on a trip to a hospital and talks to the staff there. Each of these times is an opportunity for you to ask your teen what he thought of those jobs or that field of work.

2. When your teen shows interest in a certain career, you should do some research. Then, you can offer your teen some information on that job and related jobs. The Occupational Outlook Handbook put out by the Department of Labor gives you what schooling is needed, how much someone can make and other information about almost every career out there today. It’s a wonderful free online resource.

3. Help your teen weight the pros and cons for his different career interests. Encourage your teen to narrow the choices down to five at the most. S/He can always change her/his mind after s/he sees the specifics for these choices.

4. Figure out the path your teen would have to take in order to obtain the schooling for his career choices. This is a good time to begin ordering in college and technical school catalogs. Use the catalogs and any other information you have found as an ice breaker for more conversations with your teen.

5. The ultimate decision lies with your teenager, but you do have the right to have input. Make this a clear message. Teach your teen that part of being independent is knowing when and who to lean on, trust and respect.
Tips:

1. Be sure not to push your teen in any specific direction that may be on your agenda. While you may need to push him forward, you want to guide him towards her/his future, not the one you may be dreaming about.

2. Every time you talk to your teen about her/his future you will need to give her/him time to digest the conversation. Try not to pick her/his brain too much while s/he is doing this. Simply ask if s/he is ready to talk more about it and abide by her/his answer.