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Tips on Preparing for College #JourneytoCollege

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 2:25pm

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.

My oldest is 15 and is entering his Sophomore year of high school! Where on earth did the time go? I hold a Master's degree in College Student Personnel and have actually worked as a college academic adviser. I know quite a bit about the developmental stages adolescents experience in college, the kinds of coursework they should take for most programs and the kinds of struggles they may face adjusting to higher education. However, I must admit, that I don't have as firm a grasp on the college preparation process as I'd like. Particularly when it comes to my own child, who will be leaving the nest in only three short years. Just look at him. I sitll don't know when he became a young man. 

So when it comes to preparing him for college, I am quite glad to be able to access resources such as the KapMap College Planner for Kaplan Test Prep. It breaks everything down into a month by month, easy to follow visual calendar that we parents can use as a guide to follow when helping our kids to prepare for college admissions. The map actually advises to begin planning Freshman year. As a former college adviser, I do agree that there are many things you and your high school student can begin doing this early to get ready for college. 

Some recommendations to consider:

  • Consider leadership and volunteer opportunities. Colleges look for students with a wide array of interests and involvement. While there's no need to sign them up for every sport or to overextend them, it's a good idea to encourage your students to get involved in activities that genuinely interest them and to recommend they take on leadership roles. 
  • Establish good study habits. This cannot be over stated, truly. College students need to be far more self-directed in their studies, so it's a good plan to teach them early about ways to study effectively. 
  • Present yourself positively in social media. It's true. With all of its benefits, we all know that social media can have its downsides, as well. Remind your high schooler that future admissions officers, recruiters or hiring agents can view their social media history.
  • Think about taking the PSAT Sophomore year and begin studying the summer before. While not necessary, the PSAT is a good practice for the SAT, which a majority of colleges still utilize in determining admissions criteria. 
  • Stay in touch with the school guidance counselor. This is probably the best resource for your child when it comes to being in the loop regarding college prep. The guidance counselor can provide information on when to register for entrance exams, recommend college admissions software like Navlance to start researching schools and act as a personal reference on admissions essays. 
  • Begin visiting college fairs to get an idea of what's out there and what interests you. There may even be college fairs at your child's school. Chances are a local community college will hold one. These are a good opportunity to speak with college representatives and pick up school literature all in one stop. 
  • Study for the SAT and enroll to take it. Again, this test is the one most schools to consider when evaluating a student for admissions. 
  • Talk to other students who have gone through the process. If your chld knows an upper classman who has started college, advise them to chat with that person. Some firsthand knowledge is definitely beneficial. 
  • Senior year is the time to send out those college applications and to fill out the FAFSA for financial aid. There is now a common college application that is accepted at many schools, which helps to streamline the process. A good college essay is required, as well. These steps will take time. So start early in the year. The FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is not as overwhelming as it sounds and can be completed online. 
  • Visit your top choice schools. If you can, it's a good idea to take a trip to visit the schools that are in the running so that you and your child can get a feel for which may be the best fit for them.

These are just a few of the highlights. The KapMap really goes into detail about how to prepare for college. Don't let it overwhelm you. It is very in-depth, but it's just a guideline. Approach the process in the way that works best for you and your child. There are some very good and thorough tips in this resource, though, and I must say I was impressed with the information. 

Besides the KapMap, you'll find more information from Kaplan Test Prep online:




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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.

Categories: Personal