Counselor’s Corner: College Advice Q&A

1. What are the three things parents should consider most when helping their kids prepare for college?

  • Child’s interests / abilities
  • Tuition cost / location of college
  • Academic majors / opportunities available

2. What are the top three things that current students can do to prepare for college? 

  1. Talk to someone you trust about college – Ask them about their college experience and why they decided to go to college.
  2. Meet with your High School Counselor – Make sure you are on track to graduate and are meeting the requirements for college admissions. Ask them about financial aid, college fairs, ACT, etc. Find out when college admission representatives will be at your school and plan to attend. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  3. Schedule College visits (tours) – These are great opportunities to get on campus, talk to students who attend that college, meet professors, and try out the campus cafeteria!

3. How are ways parents can support their students while in college without “overwhelming” their student? 

Parents can be supportive in several ways without “overwhelming” their student in college. Parent support whether it is academically, morally, or financially, is an important part of helping students prepare for the “real world.” I would encourage parents to be informed of the potential hazards of the college environment and to communicate with their child about the potential risks, and value of healthy choices. Visiting students in college can be a great way to show them you care, but visits should be planned with respect to the student’s privacy. Parents are an important part of their child’s college
experience.

4. What can parents be doing while their students are still in middle school and high school to help prepare them for college?

  • Stay involved- encourage your child to take challenging courses in high school to help prepare them academically. Talk to them about the importance of GPA and attendance.
  • Educate yourself- look for opportunities to learn more about the different types of colleges available to your child. Additionally, research different types of financial aid, such as federal aid, scholarships, college grants, and private loans.
  • Have an open mind. Be patient & supportive- your child may not know what they want to do after high school. That’s okay. The more they explore college options, the more prepared they will be to make an informed decision.

5. What trends have you seen in students’ attitudes toward post-secondary education?

One trend I have noticed is the students’ attitudes toward technical education. The increase in awareness of the financial benefits and hands on experience of a technical college has students choosing to attend them over 4-year universities. I believe we will continue to see this trend as the number of 2 + 2 programs increase between technical colleges and universities. The 2 + 2 programs allow students to, first, earn an associate’s
degree at a 2- year institution, followed by a bachelor’s degree at a 4- year university in the same academic major. This is a much more affordable way to earn a bachelor’s degree and in most cases, the experience is a better transition for freshman students.

6. What would you tell parents or students who feel like they can’t go or can’t afford post-secondary education?

First, I would agree. There are very few students and/or parents who can “afford” college WITHOUT the assistance of financial aid. With that said, I would encourage them to seek financial aid. This starts with completing the FAFSA. Additionally, students should apply for scholarships locally and nationally. I would also encourage them to do their research. Not all post-secondary colleges are the same. Some vary in size, academic majors, athletics, and most importantly, cost. There are other options, as well. Students have the choice to join a military service or enter the workforce. Both help make college affordable over time.

7. Why do you feel like post-secondary education is an important pathway for students?

The first thing that most people think of is money, but that’s not the only reason I believe
post-secondary education is an important pathway for students. Attending college allows students the unique opportunity to mature, meet friends, gain independence, and learn how to manage time and budget expenses. These lessons about life and themselves are worth far more after graduation than a salary.

Provided by Bethany Thomas, PreK-12 School Counselor, USD 252: Southern Lyon County

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