Part 1: College Action Plan – Thriving During High School
Hi, it’s your Money Mavens, and if your schedule looks anything like ours, it’s a whirlwind settling after the back-to-school rush.
School supplies, books, backpacks, practice schedules, and the planners – allllll the planners!
Can we agree that kids grow up way too fast?!
Your own baby may be starting their freshman year of high school this year.
It’s okay, you’ve got this. Just breathe…
As exciting and potentially overwhelming as high school can be, this is also a time to sneak a peek a few years into the future.
Your cute (or maybe angsty) teenager will be heading off to college and you’ll be standing there holding their little fuzzy bunny.
And ugly cryin’. We feel you, Mama. 🙁
So, how can you plan now for that day, that bittersweet day when your baby waves bye and you’re left hoping you did everything right?
It may not be college. It could be one last hug before they ship off to Basic Training or bootcamp.
Or kickstart their new business.
Or start their apprenticeship or trade school.
What are some steps you can take now to get ready for whatever brave new adventure your baby will chase?
That’s where our three-part College Action Plan series is built for you.
Over the next few weeks with Profit Boss® Weekly, we’re going to share a few helpful tips, questions to consider, and ideas to implement to ensure you and your high schooler can move through this next phase of life as smoothly and successfully as possible.
Today, we start with making the most of these fast-as-a-flash four years called high school.
Getting Great Grades through High School
Freshman year is when your high school GPA calculator starts up. This may be the first time your child realizes their grades really matter.
Their future college applications will include grades from classes taken in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade, so it’s time to get a bit more serious.
That’s where you can help. Work with your child to organize their weeks, their school schedules, plan out their project work and deadlines, and set some great goals for the school year.
This can help them stay motivated and focused.
Encourage your child to do well in their classes and meet with their counselor to start building a great relationship.
For sophomores, they will choose courses for their junior year in the second half of the school year.
This is a great opportunity to look at AP, IB, dual enrollment or additional classes that align with their abilities and goals. Some of these classes can save money on college.
Most importantly, it’s an amazing moment to show your child you support them as they grow and learn.
When the calendar flips to your child’s junior year, it’s all about meeting graduation requirements.
This may be a great time to connect with their guidance counselor more, especially if your child is in a challenging class.
Junior year is the last full year of grades to show off to colleges. With a little more organization and forethought, this can be a great time for your child to shine.
Although only the first three years of high school will go on the transcript used with the application, most colleges still do a mid-year grade check.
Translation: your child still needs to remain dedicated to their school work as a senior. Again, if they’re in a tough class, reach out to their guidance counselor to get the right help.
“Are we on schedule to graduate?” That’s a key question you’re likely asking in your mind at least a few times throughout their junior and senior year.
Encouraging your highschooler to continue meeting with their guidance counselor and keeping track of their grades through the years can help you know they’re on the right track.
During the first few months of their senior year, your child will finalize their applications, finish essays, and collect letters of recommendation.
You can offer to review the application and essay for your child, but be sure the writing and material is their own.
Students should think about who they would like to request a letter of recommendation from and talk with that person about it.
Remember to give plenty of advance notice to that person to help manage expectations.
“So, What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?”
You’ve heard that classic question, and the truth is there’s a lot of pressure for any of us to have to figure out exactly who we want to be and what we want to do.
Your child may have zero clue what they want to pursue.
The good news is they have time. High school is a great first window of time where they can talk about what they like doing, what’s interesting to them, and what means the most.
One of the best truths you can communicate to your child is that there are many great opportunities besides college.
In all the conversation about finding a college and taking the right courses, thinking about a potential career can get lost in the shuffle.
However, students with specific career goals in mind will find the college search so much easier and can avoid wasting extra semesters of college costs, which can really add up!
Students find success in identifying a college major when they know things about themselves – their interests, skills, challenges, and values.
They may realize college isn’t the right fit for them, but starting a business or pursuing a trade is.
Did you know that nearly 80 percent of the jobs in the military are non-combat occupations?
If your child is interested in the military, do your research and meet with recruiters.
Giving your child the support they need to find what’s interesting to them can be a great first step.
Students may need help with this thinking. Sometimes interest surveys can help but don’t be discouraged if they don’t.
Around January of their junior year, your child will start selecting courses for their senior year.
Carefully weigh the selections in view of your child’s abilities and goals. Again, AP, IB, and dual enrollment are all options that might earn college credit and save you money.
In addition to saving money, colleges like to see academic progress appropriate to your child’s ability in their chosen courses.
In an ideal situation, seniors will have narrowed down their college major to two or three options.
Having a clear major and future career in mind makes the selection of the college much easier because you’ll look for a school that’s strong in the area of interest.
Senior year classes and summer opportunities can continue to help your child explore their interests.
Your child can research available careers online. Watch some YouTube “day in the life of” videos about potential careers. The more research, the better.
If your child is headed to the military, you’ll want to meet with a recruiter and enlist. A great benefit of military service is that it can help pay for college later.
If your child is heading into a career straight out of high school, you can help write up their resume and ask for references from their teachers and employers.
With all the planning and growing pressure though, it’s also good to sometimes just focus on spending time together.
The journey of college and jumping into adulthood will come soon enough.
For now though, follow these steps and savor these last few years together.
To your prosperity,
Your HWM Money Mavens