School is here. So are the possibilities for many seniors in high school who are dreaming or anxious over prom, graduation and *gulp*- making a decision about college.
If you have not already, part 1 of this series is up, titled: “School Prep Series Part 1”, it is basically for parents and kids who need to know the basics before school starts and during.
For those students planning on going to college sometime soon this can be either an exciting time for you or as it is for many- daunting, scary, and confusing. But there is help online to guide you and your parents through these unfamiliar waters and it will require lots of selflessness, communication, and dedication on everyone’s parts. I say this because as a former volunteer in the guidance office of a local high school, I noticed that students of any race(but especially minorities) were afraid of filling out the FAFSA.
The FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is available online and it is super easy to fill out, just follow the steps. But before we even get to that part, I’d like to remind you that many parents at this time begin to have fear for their children. At the guidance office students have told me how their parents would rather them go to work to care for them, or the parents were afraid FAFSA would “take”their money, or they wished their child would choose another school so they would not allow their soon to be graduate to complete the FAFSA to the schools of their choosing.
This should not be. This is not an example of trusting God and allowing the child to make their own academic choices- this sounds like fear. FAFSA is there to help you find free money- pell grants that you as the parent would not have to pay back. this is also a good time to look into scholarships.
Here are some steps that both parents and teen can incorporate this school year to help prepare for whats ahead and remember the S-C-D(selflessness, Communication, and Dedication) while you read these steps.
- If you are a senior this year- Hurray! You are almost there. But have you considered taking the PSAT or SAT? If you haven’t, now may be the perfect time to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The PSAT is a the pre version of it for sophomores(I think)- the important thing is that you either speak with your teacher or guidance counselor about signing up to take this test. This will make or break your college application because it tests your math, science, and literature knowledge. After this post you will see resourceful links on the bottom for help.
- Are you in anything extracurricular? Extracurricular means any activity outside of academics. I know that sometimes its hard to juggle projects, homework, and home life and then have something else to do but it may be worth it to place on your college application. I did not do too much when I went to high school because I had a full class load but I was in the Spanish Club and volunteered hours at a local elementary school and it was fun. Perhaps there is one sport/activity you enjoy?
- Focus hard in class. This should be a no brainer, but because this will be your final year in high school, studying hard and doing your best is crucial at this point. If you need help with anything- ask someone. A note to parents: This is an especially good time to be really supportive of your teen. They are not only transitioning from childhood to adulthood, they need someone to be rooting them on in the right direction.
- Have you looked into potential colleges? Some families take this time to travel to different college campuses to explore the grounds, the atmosphere and what the school has to offer. You don’t have travel miles away(like I did one summer), there should be perfectly good colleges int he surrounding area as well. However the school farthest away could also be what God has for your child. Just leave options open.
- Once you have done all the above bulleted checklist, it may be a good time to start applying to the colleges. Many have websites so now where you can download their submission guidelines and forms. Parent and child should read these together. Communicate with one another about your needs as a teen student and what God has placed in your heart . Some colleges also would like an essay to accompany the application but read their application and guidelines first.
Below you will find some places to hunt to learn more about what is discussed here and I pray you have a wonderful and productive journey in Christ Jesus name.
What is the SAT? http://collegeapps.about.com/od/sat/f/goodsatscore.htm
FAFSA(Free Application for Fedearal Student Aid): http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
Choosing a College: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/choosingacollege/Choosing_a_College.htm