How to Help Your High School Grad Prepare for College

Senior year of high school is often stressful for students. They’re usually thinking, “Where will I go to college?” and “Will I be successful?” As priorities, expectations, and support systems change, students can feel overwhelmed. It becomes vital to help graduating seniors navigate the complex world of higher education. 

Students are not the only ones experiencing heightened emotions. Seeing your student graduate from high school can be an emotional roller coaster for many parents. On the one hand, parents are beaming with pride. On the other hand, they can start to feel anxious about their student’s future. Their child will soon be embarking on a brand-new experience without them. Here are a few ways to help your high school grad prepare for college. 

Attend Campus Tours Together

Before students decide what university they want to attend, they should tour each campus. College tours can provide great insight into campus life. While on campus, tour the dorms, dining halls, and classrooms. Meet with faculty members and staff who will support your collegiate journey. Being on campus can give students a feeling of if they want to spend the next four years in this place.

Parents, this is a great way to get a feel of the campus. Ask questions about safety and academic rigor. Find out where your student can turn if they’re feeling homesick or are physically ill. Attending campus tours with your student can give you peace of mind. It will also show your student support throughout this difficult process.  

Talk About Careers

As students declare majors, they often reflect the communities they grew up in or interests from high school. It is not uncommon that small towns produce a lot of teachers and nurses. Exploring various careers with your high schooler can challenge the barriers they’ve created for themselves while thinking inside the box. Young students, 17- to 18-year-olds, are making a big decision about their life after graduation before they even step foot on campus.

Try talking to your student to find out what they’re interested in. Do you have friends or colleagues in a job your student finds intriguing? Set up a conversation between these individuals and your child. This can help your student explore potential careers, and you are teaching them how to network at an early age.  

Become an In-House Editor

College applications can be a doozy. Most experts advise seniors to apply to around five to eight colleges. That’s five to eight admissions essays your student could write in a short time. Don’t forget that your student is still juggling their regular school responsibilities of homework, clubs, and sports. 

Amidst the ongoing responsibilities, students can forget to proofread their applications before submitting them to the admissions office. Being an extra set of eyes for your applicant can provide a practical form of support. Of course, point out any grammatical errors or typos. However, ensuring your child has answered the essay prompt to the best of their ability will prove extra helpful. 

Assist With Deadlines

With college preparation comes many deadlines. Creating accountability for your student will help them learn this important responsibility. Every step of the journey from financing college to the application process has deadlines. Helping your student stay on track with important deadlines can make the process smoother. This could look like a shared family calendar or virtual reminders. 

Admission tests like the SAT and ACT require deadlines for signing up for the test. Then, students have to make it to the test site on the appropriate day and time. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be filled out on October 1. Scholarships, tuition grants, university applications, and admissions deadlines are all important steps in preparing for college. Gentle reminders can help to create strong habits for your student. 

Make Lists

Lists can begin in the college application phase. Writing down reach, target, and safety schools will help your student create priorities for their application process. During this time, you and your student can refer to and update the list throughout the process. Lists can continue into the moving process. 

As you help your student pack to move into their dorm, there are things you’ll not want them to go without. Pillows, blankets, and phone chargers are expected items. But what about a planner, professional clothing, and an umbrella? Items like Tylenol and Band-Aids are often forgotten but commonly needed within the first few weeks on campus. Creating lists of these items will help ensure your student didn’t forget an extra set of sheets for their bed

Show Your Support

While the tips above will undoubtedly show your student your support, the transition period for students can be tough. Friends, relationships, activities, and routines often change during the period before college. As your child’s life shifts, it is important that you are a resource for them. Embrace the fact that tensions may be high, and help your child understand the emotions they are experiencing.

Spending extra family time together can reinforce your student’s support system. Prove to your child that you trust them by incrementally transitioning responsibilities to them during their senior year of high school. Creating small freedoms can help the transition. Allowing students to cook their own meals or advocate for themselves at school will create small wins. 

More than anything, continue to show your child love. Show up for their senior events and activities. Be a listening ear and ask questions about how you can support them during this time. Every student has different needs, and it’s vital to know what is important to your child. As your student goes to college for the first time, they will remember all of the support you gave them.



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It's a little lonely being one of the two female writers here, but I do my best! You'll find me covering everything from relationships to the newest gadget I'm excited about.

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