Preparing Your Teen for College: A Parent’s Checklist

Preparing Your Teen for College

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The Alliance Scholarship Program has been giving out scholarships since 1996. It helps thousands of high school and college students each year. This year, five students will get this support. You can start getting your teen ready for college long before their last two years of high school. This checklist covers everything from pre-high school years to their senior year. Starting early and staying organized will make the college planning smoother for you and your teen.

Start Early: Pre-High School Years

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The years before high school are crucial for college prep. It’s when you can build a strong base. This helps your teen in both their studies and personal growth. Start early to teach them the skills and mindset they need for success in college.

Begin Saving for College Education

Starting to save for college early is wise. Use special college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. They can help you cover the increasing costs of higher education. This will give your child more choices for college, making the process smoother.

Encourage Good Study Habits

Good study habits are vital for doing well in school. Encourage your teen to keep study materials organized. Make a study schedule that works for them. These skills will help them handle the hard work of high school and college.

Explore Interests and Potential Majors

Encourage your child to explore what they enjoy and find what those interests could mean for their future. Have them try new things and volunteer. This helps them figure out what they might want to study in college. It also affects their high school classes and activities.

Foster a Love of Reading

Reading is key for doing well in school. Spend time reading with your child. Encourage them to read different kinds of books. This boosts their reading and talking skills. It also helps them learn about the world.

Monitor Academic Progress

Keep an eye on your child’s school work and success. Watch their grades and how often they go to school. If they need help in certain areas, you can get it for them. This makes sure they are ready for college when the time comes.

Offer Encouragement and Support

Always support your child and celebrate their wins. Help them when things get hard and keep a positive attitude. This will make them feel sure of themselves. That confidence will help them in college and their future.

9th Grade: Building the Foundation

Starting high school marks an important step toward college. Keep saving for college and stay involved in your teen’s activities. This helps them prepare for their future.

Continue Saving for College

Saving for college is key. It doesn’t matter when you start. Regular contributions to a savings account will ease the money stress later on.

Monitor Study Habits and Extracurricular Activities

It’s vital to help your teen develop good study habits right now. Also, make sure they keep a good balance in their life. Daily reading exercises can boost their test scores.

Getting into activities they like outside school shows colleges they are dedicated. It’s a chance for them to shine beyond academics.

Discuss College Plans

Have open talks with your teen about going to college. Try to be positive about it from the start. This approach can motivate your teen to work hard towards that goal.

Talk about what they might want to study and the kind of campus they prefer. These discussions can guide them in their college choices later on.

Encourage Advanced Placement Classes

Encourage your teen to take AP classes this year. These courses are at the college level. They offer a great chance to earn college credits early.

Help with Time Management

High school can be a lot to handle. Help your teen organize their time well. A good schedule includes time for both school and fun activities.

Teach them to reach out for help when they need it. This is vital for their high school success.

Focusing on these areas in 9th grade sets a strong start for college prep.

10th Grade: Exploring Options

Your teen is now in the 10th grade, which means it’s time to check out colleges seriously. This is the right moment to talk to students older than them. They can give older student advice that’s really helpful. Suggest your teen find mentors. They can look in their school’s alumni group or in the community. Mentors can share their college application experience directly.

Investigate Financial Aid Options

Early on, look into financial aid. Many students need aid and loans to pay for college. It’s important to know about scholarships, grants, and other help. Some schools might need a special financial aid form, the CSS/PROFILE, before the FAFSA.

Attend College Nights

Make sure to go to college fairs and info sessions at your teen’s school or nearby colleges. These events are great for learning and making connections. Tell your teen to come with questions ready to get the most out of college nights.

Research Scholarship Opportunities

Look into different scholarship offers your teen might qualify for. There are scholarships based on grades, need, and backgrounds. It’s smart to help your teen apply for these. They can lighten the financial load of going to college.

Plan College Visits

Your teen might not be choosing colleges yet, but it’s good to visit some nearby. These college visits let your teen see what different campuses are like. It helps them start thinking about where they might fit best.

Encourage Meaningful Summer Activities

Suggest your teen get involved in something important during the summer. This could be an internship, volunteer work, or joining a program. Those experiences show colleges what your teen cares about and is committed to improving.

By walking your 10th grader through these steps, you will make them more confident about exploring colleges. This will kick-start their successful journey towards applying to college.

11th Grade: Preparation Year

Your teen is now in the 11th grade, getting ready for college. This year is very important for their future studies. We’ll look at the main things they should do to make sure they’re on the right path.

Schedule College Visits

Now’s the time to visit college campuses with your teen. This visit helps them see what each college is like. They’ll figure out what they want – whether it’s a small or big school, near home or far, or what they’ll study.

Create a College Wish List

It’s a good idea to have your teen make a college wish list. They should think about what they want in a college. This could be things like where it is, its size, what they can study, and what life on campus is like. Knowing what they want will focus their search.

Prepare for Standardized Tests

During the 11th grade, your teen will need to get ready for SAT and ACT tests. Doing well on the PSAT/NMSQT in October might mean scholarships. Also, getting the SAT done in spring is a good step for their college plans.

Meet with School Counselor

It’s a good idea to have your teen meet with their school counselor. They can help with picking the right classes, what extracurriculars to do, and when to apply to college.

Attend College Fairs and Financial Aid Events

Going to college fairs and events about financial aid can be very helpful. Here, your teen can talk to people from different colleges. They can ask questions, get details, and start thinking about how to pay for college.

11th grade college prep

Preparing Your Teen for College: The 12th Grade Checklist

This year is full of college deadlines and choices, making it busy and sometimes stressful. Our checklist helps you and your teen navigate this important year.

Stay Organized with Application Deadlines

12th grade is when students send off lots of college applications. It’s important to keep track of when everything is due. Make sure your teen sets up a clear plan to stay organized. This will help avoid missing important dates.

Consider Early Application Options

Some schools have early application programs. These can make a big difference in getting into the college of your teen’s choice. Weigh the benefits with your teen. Making an early decision means committing to that college if they accept you.

Assist with College Interviews

College interviews are key for your teen and the college to get to know each other. Encourage your teen to practice answering common questions. Discuss what makes them stand out. And remind them to act naturally and show interest. This can really impress the interviewers.

Apply for Financial Aid

Applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is crucial for getting help to pay for college. Help your teen gather the needed financial info and file the FAFSA by the school’s early deadline, usually early February. Don’t forget to look for scholarships too, as they can help a lot.

Support Decision-Making Process

Your teen will soon need to choose a college from their acceptances. Listen to their thoughts and fears. Help them compare schools based on what’s most important to them, like costs or majors offered. Your advice and support can help them make a good choice.

Building Emotional Resilience

Getting ready for college isn’t just about studying. It’s also about learning to handle tough emotions. These skills are very important for your child’s future. They help deal with challenges and changes.

Encourage Independence and Problem-Solving

Letting your teen solve problems on their own is key to emotional strength. Encourage them to make their own choices and solve daily problems. This boosts their confidence to face college life alone.

Practice Mindfulness

Teaching your teen mindfulness can really help. It’s a way to stay calm and focused, even when things get tough at school. They can try meditation, deep breaths, or creative visualization to see what helps them the most.

Develop Self-Care Habits

Self-care is vital for emotional strength. Make sure your teen gets enough sleep, eats well, and exercises. These simple things can make a big difference in how well they cope with college stress.

Teaching your teen to be independent, solve problems, be mindful, and practice self-care is important. These skills will help them do well in college and in life.

Transitioning to College Life

Heading off to college can be exciting and a bit scary for teens. As a parent, support your child to handle the big changes. Let them know it’s okay to feel unsure at first. But, they should try to enjoy the new things.

Manage Expectations

College isn’t always like the perfect scenes in movies or online. It’s normal to miss home, find a new routine hard, or face tough school work. Help your child understand this. It’ll help them stay steady during the first college year.

Commit to Time Management

Time management is key for doing well in college. Before they go, help your child learn to plan and manage time. They should set a schedule, list tasks by importance, and balance school with hobbies and friends.

Embrace New Experiences

College is full of chances to see and do new things. Encourage your child to take part in activities outside of their norm. This could be joining a club, going to events, or making new friends. These steps can help them find their place at school.

Know Where to Seek Help

It’s vital for your child to know about the help available on campus. Make them aware of advisors and places for tutoring, mental health support, and health services. Remind them it’s smart to seek help when they need it. It could really improve their time at college.

With your support, your teen can face the challenges of college confidently. By handling expectations, being good at time management, trying new things, and knowing how to get help, your child can make the most of their college years.

Choosing the Right Major

Choosing the right major is a huge decision for college students. It really affects what jobs they can get and how happy they’ll be in their work. Make sure your teen checks out all the help they can get on campus. The career services department is great for finding what they love.

Explore Career Services

Most schools offer a ton of help for careers. This includes talking to experts, going to job events, and meeting past students. Your teen can get to know many job types and what they involve by using these services.

Discover Interests and Passions

Choosing a major isn’t just about money or job options. It’s vital that your teen picks something they really enjoy. They should try different classes, go to school activities, and find clubs that interest them.

Consider Future Career Prospects

Looking into potential jobs is key too. Talk about job trends and what the work might be like. This way, your teen’s studies and future plans will line up well.

Financial Preparations

As your teen gets ready for college, making sure they’re financially prepared is vital. It’s key to know all the college costs, from tuition to living expenses. Look up college costs and form a budget. This will guide your teen in spending smartly at college.

Understand College Costs

College prices change a lot based on the school’s location and what it offers. Urge your teen to look into what each college on their list costs. This should include tuition, housing, food, books, and extra fees. Knowing these costs helps make a solid financial plan.

Apply for Scholarships and Grants

Getting scholarships and grants is a big help for college costs. Your teen should check out scholarships from the school, local groups, and national organizations. Help them write good application essays and meet deadlines. Also, show them how to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for more financial help.

Create a Budget Plan

Making a budget is key for your teen’s college success. Help them make a budget that covers must-haves and fun spending. Teach them good budgeting and saving tips. This way, they can make smart financial choices and stay secure in college.

By learning about college costs, winning scholarships and grants, and having a solid budgeting plan, you and your teen will feel financially confident about college. This smart strategy will help them to focus on their studies and growth. College will be a great learning experience for them.

Resources for Parents and Students

As you and your teen prepare for college, there’s a lot to consider. You’ll find many helpful resources. These include saving for college, getting financial aid, and studying for tests. Each one can make your journey easier.

College Savings Plan Information

Start saving for college as soon as you can. Look into college savings plans, like 529 plans. They let you save money for your teen’s education with tax benefits. Check out what your state offers and try to put money in regularly. This will help cover tuition and other fees later on.

FAFSA and Financial Aid Resources

Completing the FAFSA is key for getting financial aid. It opens the door to grants, scholarships, and loans for your teen. Urge them to fill it out early. It’s also smart to look for more aid, such as through scholarships and college aid info. This can boost the money available for college.

Standardized Test Preparation Materials

Doing well on the SAT and ACT is important for college. Make sure your teen has access to practice tests and study aids. There are many resources available, including schools and online sites. Helping them prepare can make a big difference in their admission chances.

college savings plans


Getting your teen ready for college is a big job, but it’s very fulfilling. It involves early planning, staying organized, and giving them emotional support. This way, you help make their high school to college switch easier. It’s a team effort between you and your teen. Together, you can prepare them for success in this new chapter.

We’ve gone through key steps from early high school years to the college hand-off. We’ve looked at how to work on education, manage money, and deal with feelings. Using the tips and tools we discussed, you can guide your teen to overcome college’s challenges. This journey will help them grow and reach their goals.

As your teen steps into the college world, keep being supportive, adaptable, and ready for change. Your advice and their own strength will help them through their college years. They’ll build their own way, enjoying the many chances that college offers. Sharing this adventure, cheer them on as they follow their dreams.

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