January – An Important Month

January 16, 2012

For Seniors

Whether your child has already completed his or her college applications, or has not yet pushed “send” on any of them, these next few months can be filled with anxiety for teens.

Particularly if your child is waiting for news in the mail, make sure you are not fueling the fire by indicating your anxiousness for acceptance from that “perfect school.”  If your child receives a rejection from one (or a few) of the schools, be supportive, let them grieve for a few days and then help them move on.

If your child is still filling out applications, encourage them to get these completed soon. In addition to making the senior year more enjoyable once this chapter is closed, there is more financial aid available early on.  So get those apps in!

If you have put off filling out the FAFSA, get to it right away too.

In terms of scholarships, now is the time to check your school’s guidance website or Naviance site. Some scholarships will be listed now and others posted through the winter/spring.

Scholarships may be an area where you want to help your child search for some options. Kids are typically pretty burnt out after applications and may need some nudging.

Make sure as well to check local organizations with which you may be affiliated – through your work, religious organization, local businesses, disability related organization, etc.

Scholarships (and the money they provide) are out there, but you have to poke around a bit!

For Juniors

January marks the “official kick off” of the college planning season.  I suggest that you and your child begin with an initial planning meeting to get things going.

Make sure that everyone understands and agrees that the next 12-18 months of college preparation need to be driven by the student. This is often hard, as many students think that they can be a passive observer in the process!

It all starts with recognizing (if they haven’t already) that grades and extracurricular activities are very important. Colleges expect students to be working hard at the most challenging courses they can handle.  Hopefully, there is a balance to be found so your child still finds time to enjoy being a teenager.

In this first meeting, you and your child can also begin to talk about what they are looking for in a college:

  • Are they ready for a four year college right after high school?
  • Do they prefer a city or more rural/suburban experience?
  • How important is school spirit and Greek Life on campus?

These kinds of simple questions can help narrow the field early, helping to make the entire process feel more manageable.

Take advantage too of any days off from school to visit local campuses of all types so your child can begin to form their opinions. Tours will fill up quickly during school holidays and vacation weeks, so sign up in advance!

Finally, it’s important to think about test preparation for the SAT and ACT now.  (See my December newsletter here for more on this topic.)

Good luck to your students taking end of semester exams soon!

January College Planning Talks for Parents of High School Students

I’ll be giving two college planning talks next week, both of which are free and open to the public. Come join us!

  • Tuesday, January 24th,   7-8 pm,  Algonquin Regional High School Library, Northboro, MA
  • Wednesday, January 25th,  7-8pm,  Hopkinton Middle School Library

Teen Driving Resources
(Now that winter is here!)

This site has great safety information for teen drivers:

This is a helpful article regarding the extra effort needed to help adolescents with learning disabilities to become safe drivers. It has some helpful pointers, even for kids who do not have a diagnosed learning disability but tend to lose their focus. (Which could really be quite a large group!)

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