Guide for Parents: Ten Steps to Prepare Your Child for College
The American Council on Education and ACE are registered trademarks of the American Council on Education and are used with permission.
Investigate and choose a savings vehicle.
There are many options available, including U.S. Savings Bonds, bank accounts, mutual funds, and state savings or prepaid tuition plans.
- Begin saving as early as possible.
Whatever savings vehicle you choose, you will be much better off if you start saving early. For example, if you put aside $50 per month starting when your child is born, at 5 percent interest, you will have saved more than $17,000 when your child is 18. If you start saving the same amount monthly when your child is 8 years old, you will have saved only $7,000 by the time your child is ready for college.
Elementary and Middle School
- Encourage your child to challenge him or herself academically, develop good study habits, and become involved in school- and community-based extracurricular activities.
A positive school experience that is both academically challenging and rich in extracurricular activities is important in itself and as preparation for college.
- Discuss career and college options with your child and encourage his or her aspirations.
Many students assume that higher education is not for them or that the jobs they are interested in don't require college. Today, some form of formal postsecondary education or training is required for almost every well-paying job. With $60 billion in financial aid available, college is possible for almost every American. So encourage your child to aim high, explore all the options, and plan to attend college.
- Make sure your child starts on a college preparatory track in middle school or junior high.
If students don't take the right courses in middle school, they may be shut out of the college preparatory track in high school. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that middle and junior high school students take Algebra I in 8th Grade, Geometry in 9th Grade, and English, Science, and History or Geography every year. Foreign language, computer, and visual or performing art classes are also recommended.
Reprinted with the permission of the American Council on Education. © 2008 American Council on Education.
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