- Encourage your child to use a planner or electronic organizer to help them manage their time, set goals and stay on a path to success. Check in with your child to make sure they use one throughout each school year to keep track of assignments, activities, important dates and deadlines.
- Play an active role. Keep the lines of communication open throughout your student's high school years. Talk to their teachers and counselor about their progress and any concerns that you have. Being involved can help them succeed.
- Work with your student to set clear goals before you visit colleges. Work together to create a list of targeted questions for your student to ask during the tour. Your child's college selection criteria may not be the same as yours, so talk about those differences before the tour. Let your student set up the visit and take the lead in asking questions. College admission staff agree that one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a parent is to take over the process.
- Don't let a poor economy derail your child's college plans. Make sure you're saving as much as you can, because most of the burden of college costs falls on you and your child. Sometimes paying for college means a change in lifestyle or finding alternative means of funding.
- Review the information you and your student gather on colleges and discuss the options. Work toward attainable goals and workable solutions. Before you know it, your child will be heading to college, and you will have played an important role.
- College is a worthwhile investment, but it can be an expensive one. Talk to your student about the costs involved. Keep in mind that being involved now in the financial aid process will help prepare your child to better manage money later in life.
- Help your student fill out their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but make sure they are playing a role in the process.
- Ask your employer if they offer scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs. Many employers offer scholarships specifically for employees' dependents.
- Ask your student about homework assignments and any upcoming tests or projects. Find out if whether all the preparation and work is done. Don't forget to ask how a test went and provide support afterward.
- Financial aid packages will vary. Colleges determine a student's financial aid eligibility based upon the college's funding levels and the student's merit and financial need. Learn more about financial aid packages here.
- Help your child choose a career. Deciding on an initial career goal can be daunting for a high school student, but research shows that parents have a large influence on their child's career choices. Take the time to guide your child through the process of discovering abilities, interests and values that will help them choose a suitable career path.
- Include a few college campuses in any summer travel, or plan to visit those nearby with your student. Allow them to get a feel for the different environments and options available.