We often reserve parent-teacher conferences and meetings for elementary and middle school-aged children, but their value may increase when students hit high school. The careful balance between permitting independence and self-exploration while still maintaining an active presence in a teenager’s life prompts many parents to stay involved, but from the sidelines. This approach also seems more practical during a time when many parents are working one or more jobs. They simply do not have the time and/or financial resources to be constantly meeting with teachers and counselors.
So, how so can we ensure parents are educated about college preparation and admissions trends so they can be their child’s advocate? How can we intercept information lost in translation from teenager to parent?
There are of course a million things we want parents to know, but we’ve identified what we think are the most important things our parents should be thinking about right now as it relates to college preparation.
Freshmen Parents: Four-Year Planning
Encourage parents (and/or other active adults in the student’s life) to sit down and develop a four-year plan that include academic, extra-curricular and college goals. If this can be done with the counselor or as a workshop, it can help facilitate a partnership between families and the school and promote positive peer pressure amongst families.
Sophomore Parents: SATs & The College Visit
Facilitate a workshop for all sophomore parents and explain the SAT so they
understand it’s value and potential contribution to their child’s college application. Also try to make it mandatory for all sophomores to visit one local college (including community colleges) with a parent or other trusted adult. Make tour information available to parents and even organization group tours at more popular institutions.
Junior Parents: Summer Jobs & Internships For Exploration
Summer employment, internships and long-term volunteer opportunities are some of the best ways for college applicants to distinguish themselves from their peers. Make a number of opportunities available to students from all economic backgrounds – the idea of an internship is often foreign to parents, so facilitate a workshop for parents about why these opportunities are necessary for college admission.
Senior Parents: Financial Aid
Make sure parents of seniors have completed the necessary financial aid paperwork for all colleges their child applied to. Host a series of financial aid Q&A sessions for families.