Parental involvement is very important to the college search process, which can sometimes feel overwhelming for teenagers. Parental support and guidance during this time is critical to a student’s well being as well as his or her future academic career. The following is a year-by-year guide to assist parents.
- Be familiar with the plan that your child made with his/her counselor during the fall semester and monitor academic progress. Help your son or daughter set realistic academic goals for each term. Check grades on-line and, when necessary, consult with your child’s teachers.
- Encourage your child to become involved in co-curricular activities. Most college and scholarship applications ask students to list their high school activities; depth of involvement and leadership convey commitment and focus to college admission representatives. Keep a record of your child’s activities and awards.
- Continue to monitor academic progress by talking to your child, checking grades on-line and meeting with teachers when necessary.
- Continue to encourage your student to be involved in activities and to develop leadership skills.
- Ask your child and/or the tenth-grade counselor about the results of the PSAT test taken by sophomores.
- Begin to explore and discuss college options. Gather information from college websites, request brochures, and attend any college fairs that are offered.
- In the spring, when selecting courses for the junior year, make sure to evaluate your child’s plan.
- Continue to update the activities and awards file.
- Help your child choose meaningful activities for the summer months. If possible, seek out activities that relate to the academic major or career field he or she is considering.
- Continue to monitor academic progress. Because some college applications are due in the fall of a student’s senior year, junior-year grades are very important. Make sure your student understands the importance of getting good grades during his/her junior year.
- Continue to encourage involvement in co-curricular activities.
- Talk about college options. There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States, many of which are lesser known but provide an excellent education. Make sure to use the Internet and attend college fairs, and make sure your child meets with college admissions representatives when they visit St. Michael's.
- When looking for the right school, consider location, size, available academic majors, cost, facilities, competitiveness and reputation. Determine what’s important to you and your child. All colleges are different and each has its strengths and weaknesses.
- Ask your child about the results of the PSAT that all St. Michael's juniors take.
- Have your child take the SAT and/or the ACT in the spring of his/her junior year.
- Monitor your student’s course selection for his/her senior year. Colleges recommend that students continue to follow a strong college preparatory program.
- Update the activities and awards file.
- During the summer, visit colleges and help your child narrow his/her list of choices. Select one or two “safety” schools—colleges to which your child is sure to be accepted and that you can afford.
- Continue to monitor academic progress.
- Help your child create a calendar for the year for recording test dates and deadlines for college and scholarship applications.
- If you and your child have identified one school that is a good fit and for which your child meets the criteria, the application process will be vastly simplified. If your child is interested in several schools, encourage him/her to apply to one safety school, one “reach” school (a school he/she might want to attend but doesn’t meet the admissions criteria) and two or three other schools. Applying to more than six schools is costly in time, money and effort.
- Have your son or daughter retake the ACT and/or SAT. (If a student doesn’t do well on college entrance exams, it doesn’t mean he/she cannot be accepted to a college or be successful in college. Admissions officers consider a variety of criteria when evaluating applicants, and many students who do not test well go on to succeed in college.)
- Learn of college application deadlines early in the fall semester and encourage your child to thoroughly and accurately complete the applications. Have your student make a copy of the completed application for his/her files and note the dates they were submitted.
- Applications that require letters of recommendation or have sections for the counselor to complete should be given to the appropriate people at least three weeks before their deadline. Because SMHS is closed in the last part of December, applications with early January deadlines should be turned in by the first week of December.
- Visit colleges. All SMHS seniors who go on college visits should obtain a College Visit Form from the senior counselor a week prior to their scheduled absence.
- Complete financial aid and scholarship application forms. If you are applying for financial aid, complete the FAFSA (click here to access the form) as soon as possible after January 1 of your child’s senior year.
- Make the decision. At some point, you and your child must choose which school he/she will attend. Once the choice is made, complete the necessary forms and notify any other colleges to which your child applied. If your son/daughter will be living on campus, be sure to fill out the housing forms and make the required deposit by the deadline.