Helping Your Teen Decide What to Do After High School
Helping to prepare your teen for life after high school is one of the most important tasks you'll have as a parent. Although it can be difficult to imagine your baby as an adult, with the right approach, helping your teen make the transition into adulthood can be rewarding.
Going to college, getting a job, or taking time off are the common choices your teen will likely face. Here's how you can help your adult-to-be make the best decision.
College or Technical School
Although you may remember starting your own college search in the fall of your senior year, many teens these days need to get started earlier because of the extensive research involved and the deadlines for early admissions programs to more competitive programs. In fact, many students begin as early as the fall of their junior year.
A good preparation for your teen is to sit down and start writing — this is great practice for the application process. Teens should list their goals as well as their accomplishments, even if they haven't yet decided on a field of study. Ask your teen to write down a list of:
- academic and personal strengths and weaknesses
- extracurricular activities
- grade point average (GPA)
- class rank
- SAT, ACT, or AP scores
Next, teens should think about and list the qualities they're looking for in a college: do they want to go away to school, stay close to home, or take online courses, for example?
Armed with this preliminary information, it's time to begin the research. Guidebooks, the Internet, and counselors at school are particularly helpful resources. As your teen chooses potential schools, start visiting campuses and talking with students who go there.
Experts suggest narrowing the choices to a diverse mix of about six to 10 schools where the odds range from low to high for gaining admission. Applications should be filled out completely and neatly, including the essay, which your teen should revise until confident that it's his or her best work. Many schools offer help in these areas.
And don't cross college off the list because you're afraid the tuition will be too steep. Many kids can receive financial help. For info about scholarships and other programs that may help, ask:
- the school counselor
- the colleges' financial aid offices
- your employer, who might offer scholarship programs
Federal aid programs are also available and can be researched online.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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