With a grown son and one who is entering his junior year of high school, college prep has been a process I have been through before including getting my own self through the process many years ago. So where and when do you start? There is a timeline, but there is one very important question to ask before you start the process and the answer will depend on each individual child. Is college the right thing for my son/daughter?
We had to watch our boys through high school and with our oldest, we knew the answer to that question was No! College was not for him. He is a smart kid, but just hates school with a passion. He hates the work, hates the tasks but needs a plan. He is a huge car lover and in his junior year we met with his counselor and got him into the tech program. For both his junior and senior year, he left campus on a bus and was taken to the auto tech program in the next town where his day was hands on learning in the field he loved-automotive. Today, he is training to become an assistant manager for a major auto retailer he has worked at for 5 years now and currently is a supervisor. His goal is to rise to Manager, district manger and maybe even a Regional Manager (like my husband) for this company. College was not for him, but with the proper planning and because we realized this early on, he was able to go through a tech program and does very well now.
Our next son is entering junior year of High School and is pretty sure he has confirmed with himself that he wants a criminal justice degree. He is our child that we can say college IS for him. Dorm life, academics, applying as dorm monitor is his future.We all see it and he also envisions this lifestyle and so it starts! The college process and step 1 is done-finding a career. His short term is a degree in criminal justice with a minor in business and his ultimate goal is FBI. Now that he knows his career choice, we have been scouting in-state colleges for him. I cannot afford out-of-state tuition as that almost triples, so I have him limited to in-state and he has a 3.6 GPA so I don’t foresee an issue for colleges not accepting him. We only need one acceptance after all and he will be off.
There is a process to college planning and timing is everything. Kaplan is my college planning go-to site. I get their free newsletter and I get alerts for my son’s grade level for planning tips as they come near deadlines. It has all of my SAT/ACT/PSAT planning guides, tests and financial planning resources for him. Through the Kaplan site, I can go year by year and know I am on track. For the most part, Freshman and Sophomore year is about GPA, discovering career choice and building a portfolio by joining programs, sports and volunteering. Junior year is about researching colleges with your desired degree, knowing their requirements and working with the counselor on proper elective and high school class choices geared towards the entrance requirements. As well, we will schedule campus tours and start applying for scholarships. In his senior year, we will have the financial aid process and more scholarship applications.
So, is college right for your child? If the answer is yes, I highly encourage you to visit Kaplan at least as your child enters high school for your detailed month-by-month guide for every year of high school and print it our like I do. All the information on this site is free for you to use and guide you from freshman year of high school through college entrance. They also offer very high quality placement test practices and courses. If college is not for your child, the next step is a meeting with the counselor. Your child at the very least needs a plan. If they need help finding a passion or path, counselors have assessment tests they can take to help them find a carer choice. After they find a career choice, they can start to feel excited and motivated to the next step whether it is college, tech school, apprentice programs, etc.. These are all hands on and usually programs are anywhere from 18 months up to a few years so they can choose a path best for them. Many times, a teen will not choose a path simply because they and their parents feel lost about the process. If they are shown the Kaplan map, perhaps it is less overwhelming and that is all the motivation it takes sometimes.
To receive your FREE Kaplan Map, visit Kaplan’s home page and enter your name, email, graduation year and it will be sent to your inbox! You will be glad you have this handy!