Countdown to College
If you are in high school and you are thinking about going to college, the time to start getting ready is NOW! The earlier you begin planning, the better prepared you will be. But it is never too late to get started, and we can help you make up for lost time!
As a student, it is important to trust yourself and your instincts when choosing a college. Those instincts work best when you have a clear understanding of your individual needs and goals. The first step in that direction is self-evaluation; spend the time to really get to know yourself.
Live the value of education
Place academics and learning on the highest rung of the “To Do” list. Completing a science project outranks going to the movies, playing with friends or even going to soccer practice. Be alert for falling grades. They are a clear indicator of something going on: stress, peer pressure, teacher issues, social conflict, or drugs and alcohol. Open your eyes, listen and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Most colleges require applicants to take a number of standardized tests and submit their scores. Check the websites of the schools that interest you and find out what tests they require. Some special-needs students may qualify for arrangements such as extended time. The College Board and ACT have extensive forms to fill out with the help and support of your guidance counselor. Make sure your specialized testing is up to date. For all testing, register for SAT at collegeboard.com or the ACT at ACT.org. Most students should take both tests.
Financial Aid/ Paying for College
When it comes to raising the money that families need to pay for college or an accredited technical or vocational school – everyone is looking for help. Very few people in this country can pay the high cost of tuition out of pocket. Even fewer have saved the $100,000 needed for four years at the state university or up the $260,000 for a four-year private college. So how do you pay for your child’s post-secondary education?
Be Early, Be Wise
While many aspects of the financial aid allocation may be beyond a family’s control, there are things you can do.
- Begin the process early – SAVE!
- Determine your Expected Family Contribution very early using the EFC calculator at the College Board
- Don’t pay for College Scholarship Information – it is free (http://www.fastweb.com/). Start Early!
Saving for College
With so many options available, the choices seem confusing. It is important to look over your personal estate and financial plan. Find a qualified attorney who specializes in Estate Planning and hire a Certified Financial Planner. Review your needs carefully. The most important thing to do is to start saving. If college is in your child’s future, the way to realize that goal can only be accomplished through saving. Prepaid Tuition, Bonds, IRAs, the Coverdell Education Savings Account, the 529 Plan can all have a place. Many of them can be done in concert with each other.
Watch out for people who sell annuities and other ways to shelter income and use other gimmicks to qualify for aid. With this said, the reasons for saving money for college is apparent. It’s important to research available options – and essential to start saving. You do not get penalized for saving money in the parents’ names.
Learning about Learning
Children have different learning styles and strengths: these are the modes of sensory input and output. Get to know how your child learns and interacts best. Tapping this knowledge can help you get to know what motivates your child. Talking to your child endlessly about what he/she needs to do doesn’t work if your child has poorly developed auditory skills.
- It doesn’t need to be a quiet place in his or her room, it needs to be the place that suits your child’s learning style and is well equipped with supplies. Listening to music can sometimes block out the silence. It becomes white noise for many children.
- Help your child to learn to keep a weekly assignment book. Technology is a great help, provided the student uses it. Model good habits through your own behavior. Encourage him/her to watch for the long-range assignments that creep up. Use planners and calendars, paper or electronic. Model their use!
- Expectations about homework have to be established in the household. Completed and done with the best effort and turned in is a value.
- Limit all types of screen time an, social media use for the entire household. Teach by example. It is hard to study when the TV is blaring in the next room or to ask your child to talk to you when you are texting or reading your own emails.
- Parents: Create a reading environment. Look for things you all want to know and download them from the Internet or research them in the library (yes they still exist). Help your child learn to discriminate and verify material from a variety of resources. Wikipedia is not authentic work. Organize and categorize information; help your child understand plagiarism.
- Make math real. Think of real life examples. The future will revolve around math and science skills. Emphasis their relevance in daily life. Basics should be drilled and practiced, but estimating is a very valuable tool in real life. STEM is the future for this next generation!!! (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). ENGAGE!