The final year of high school presents challenges to a college-bound student. It’s important to do well academically, but students also need to focus on college applications. They can feel caught between two worlds, especially as graduation time draws near. There’s no other experience quite like the one-off nearing the end of high school and living at home, the only life they have ever known, and the uncertainty of what is ahead. Depending on your child and the situation, this can be exciting, stressful, or both. You can help them prepare with the tips below.
One of the hardest parts of preparing for college is figuring out how to pay for it. In addition to the high price tag on tuition, there’s the cost of books and other school supplies as well as regular living expenses. If your child would like to avoid taking out too much in student loans, you can help them search for scholarships and grants they may be eligible for. You could also look to contributing some yourself, even if you don’t have money saved up. If you own your home, you might be able to take out a home equity line of credit. A HELOC is one way to help cover the costs of their education and reduce their debt burden of student loans.
Some kids at this age are very focused on where they want to go to school and what they want to study. They will probably be motivated to fill out applications on their own. Kids who are more uncertain about what they want to do may need more guidance. You can talk to them about criteria for selecting a college, including not just academics but other factors such as where the school is located and the general culture on campus. They may need help organizing paperwork and getting a good workflow in place for completing applications, writing any necessary admissions essays, and asking for letters of recommendation. You can assist with this organization. You can also accompany them on campus visits if doing them is affordable.
More difficult to navigate may be emotional considerations. You may already know how to take care of yourself during a crisis, but this transition is more of a slow burn. How do both you and your child feel about the coming change? It can be tough for parents to see their children grow up and move out of the house. Your child may be experiencing a range of emotions themselves, and they may or may not be open to sharing them.
Make sure they know that the lines of communication are always open, but don’t push them to talk about their feelings if they seem hesitant. Try to avoid talking too much about your own college experience as well. Your intentions may be good, sharing to show that you understand, but it can come across as though you are setting up a comparison in some way and expect their experience to mirror yours. They might feel very differently than you did about finishing high school, saying goodbye to their friends, and starting college.