My only child is a high school senior this year! How do I prepare her for college?

Carol - posted on 06/21/2011 ( 12 moms have responded )

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Okay, need help! All you moms have been through this...what do I need to do to prepare for my 1 and only child? She wants to go to college but I don't know where to start. I cant believe she will be a senior in high school this fall. It went by way too fast!!!

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Kristi - posted on 06/22/2011

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As someone who was really excited to go away to college and then felt lost when I got there, I would really examine your child's social readiness. I attended a huge state university a 5-hour drive from home. It was very hard when I got there. I met people, but I didn't really take good care of myself. I don't think I had enough self confidence to develop healthy relationships outside of my circle of friends at home. I gained weight, and felt depressed. I didn't do well at my classes at all. Over the Thanksgiving break my second year, I got into a terrible car accident and had to come home to rehab. I was never so relieved, even after I had been there a year and a half. It was a waste of time and money looking back. I do have a few good memories, but I wish my parents had been less excited about me going off to college, and more focused on helping me find a good fit for school. I should have attended a community college first, and I should have paid for at least half of it myself. I was used to working in school, so that should have been a partial plan, as it helped me stay organized with my time. Help your daughter evaluate her personality and her needs right now. Even though she might think she knows what she wants to do, the basic credits her first two years are essentially the same wherever she goes. If she does decide to attend a community college, just be sure to make an appointment with an advisor from that school, and also the school she will likely transfer to, to make sure they have a good transfer degree program in place. She may want to consider working for a little while after she earns an Associate's degree to see if she likes the field she thinks she might go into. Lots of folks get their bachelor's only to find out it's completely the wrong field for them. The other thing I wish someone had told me when I went to school, is to plan further ahead then you ever think you will need to. Is she someone who will want to wait and get married when she's 30? If she thinks she will want children, she may want to do some school now, but wait until her children are in school before she starts on that big career track. I wish I'd known that one!! I'd have done my traveling, different kinds of classes, different kinds of jobs and all that stuff instead of a steady career track in my 20's. All wasted. Now my kids are 3 and 7, and the blip I've had out of the job market is affecting my ability to get a job. Tell her to wait and enjoy her kids, and then go get 'em in the career track if she wants that. Her school will still count! I hope this has been helpful. Really help her think about what she wants out of school, not just classes, but out of the school experience. Good luck!

Christine - posted on 10/01/2011

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OK, some "mom" advice instead of application advice. Start conversations with her that require her to reason through situations to teach her to make informed decisions and discuss the implications of the decisions. Propose some what-if scenarios. Open a checking account (with ATM) so you can teach money management, and don't bail her out if she overspends and has to sit out an event or two. Also, teach some basic nutrition tips while cooking and household things like laundry, sharing space, being organized and neat (rooms are so small this is essential), and teach her to ask for help when needed. I found that my 2 thought asking for help was a sign that they couldn't take care of themselves and we had to change that quickly! Good luck. You can only lay a strong foundation and then let them struggle a bit with gentle guidance. It's hard, but the reward is great.

Paula - posted on 08/16/2011

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College often have visiting weekends for incoming students. Have the 2 of you selected any to visit? Consider a local 2 yr school and then transfer to a bigger school or one further away after she completes the 2 yr. Also require her to make the contacts and filing her finacial aid. Help her yes, do it for her, no.

Patti - posted on 06/30/2011

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FAFSA!! And any and all grants and scholarships she is eligible for. She will have to write a 200 word essay for most, but with a few minor changes, it can be used often. I suggest checking the internet for scholarships and grants, there are tons out there and some are never claimed, so check out everything. She won't get all she applies for, but the more she does apply for, the more she has a chance of getting something! Her guidance counselor should have ".coms" to check out. Our school gives our Seniors a packet of local clubs offering scholarships, even the teachers association and the PTA has a scholarship! Check out things she is interested in and you will be surprised about what is out there! Our churches and Legions and Auxilleries have them!! So check them out! Also, any school she is interested in ...INTERESTED in..she should apply for any of their scholarships. She will have to apply to the college, but that doesn't mean she has to attend there. (My daughter received one from the college Board of Regents that paid half her tuition for 2 years!! HALF!!! Amazing! A true blessing, as well!) Also, I would suggest visiting any college she is interested in. We live in a small town and my daughter wasn't interested in a University, because she wasn't confident that was what she wanted, and chose a school that focused on the areas of study she wanted to go into, so she didn't have to take classes she wasn't going to need to work her field. (However, when she transferred to a Jr college closer to home, she had to take the requireds for that school, and some of her credits from the "specialty" school didn't transfer, so she had to repeat classes) When you go to check out the campuses, check security, what is available on campus for recreation, laundry, entertainment, etc. When she does decide and goes off, help her get the things she will need to make her room a home. We never thought of curtains and her dorm only had blinds, and everything was white. Splashes of color and personal items make it more "homey". Know in your heart that you raised her the best you could and she will make you proud of her! Should she decide to go to a college where she will have to room, stay in touch..calls, texts, (which are so much more preferred, because those around her won't know she is texting you). Send care packages...especially around exam time! An unexpected package from home means alot! And, as you already know, no matter how old she is, she will always be your baby! Hugs, my friend!

Crystal - posted on 06/23/2011

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You should plan to visit several colleges over the summer. Give her an opportunity to view the campus and hear about the different types of programs being offered. If she isnt sure of her major yet, she may also want to do some career exploration activities. There are several websites where she can take an career inventory to see the types of things she might be interested in. Of course starting out undecided is ok also. The next thing she wants to do is make sure that she completes her top three college applications by THANKSGIVING BREAK of her Senior year. Have all test scores, transcripts and application fees done by then because a lot of schools give advance scholarships for academics very early. EVEN IF THEY ARE OPEN ENROLLMENT SCHOOLS. That way she can take the opportunity to see which schools offer the best scholarships. I am an Enrollment Management Specialist for the College of Pharmacy at the University of Toledo and both of my children are currently enrolled at two different colleges. I remember this process and want to help new college students and their parents make a smooth transition.

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Carol - posted on 07/13/2011

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Thanks Everyone for the great information! My daughter did complete her ACT and got a 23 on it. She wants to major in performing Arts. And has plans to work for Disney! So we'll see how this goes... looking into scholarships and grants right now!!! Thanks again for all of the wonderful information! :)

Karen - posted on 06/26/2011

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If she hasn't taken the SAT or ACT tests, she has to, ASAP. She needs to scope out what colleges she wants to go to NOW. I can't emphasize this enough. Also, go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. That's the REAL Free Application For Federal Student Aid. You have to fill this out (just once) for all the colleges that your daughter is or will apply for. You'll need to fill out the form by January 1, 2012 for her to qualify for any financial aid or scholarships she might want to apply for.

Do NOT go to FAFSA.com. That's not the official government site.

Another great web site to go to is http://www.review.com. It's free to sign up, and you can search their "Counselor-O-matic" to see what colleges might be a good fit for your daughter. It gives information on the type of school, what the average GPA and SAT scores are to enter, even what the lifestyles are.

Good luck to you and your daughter!

Trudi - posted on 06/24/2011

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As soon as school starts get ahold of her counseler at school and find out about scholarship applications. Alot of them are due by Jan, and they take time to fill out, usually the staff at the High School is more then willing to help. Enjoy this year with your daughter it is an exciting and fun time!

Robin - posted on 06/23/2011

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It always goes by so fast. I just had one of my foster kids, who has lived here for the last 2 years graduate high school. The guidance counselor hooked her all up with what scholorships to apply for and how to apply for pell grants. Since she was in foster care, she qualified for special funding for college. I do have to say that she worked her booty off, she graduated at the age of 16. She starts college this fall, locally so I can still help her. Love this young lady and her school made it pretty easy for me.

Alice - posted on 06/23/2011

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Yes, start now. My son graduated high school in 2009. Apply for everything you can.

Erin - posted on 06/22/2011

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First of all, Breathe....and you have to get over your shock at how fast it all went...do that later. Now, You're a little behind on getting your stuff done. What are her scores ACT/SAT/GPA? Interests? Scholarship potential? Where does she Want to go? Big, Mid, Small school? Urban, Small City? Near or far? Look Look Look!! We went to probably 8 different schools. Contact Admissions, schedule tours, gather information from the internet, College Prowler.com (for kids) other parents, the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Find out what you can afford....Lots to do, Get on it!! ps...my youngest of 3 just graduated in May. It DOES go by fast and you have all worked hard to get to this point. See it through, then reflect and fall apart if need be (later, after she's gone : ) ) Stay strong and get organized! Best of luck! Erin

Kimberly - posted on 06/22/2011

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Start now!!! Financial Aide applications, students loan applications, visiting college campuses...etc. This year is going to fly by, and the sooner you start the better. My oldest graduated in 2005 and I didn't know anything. My second child will be a junior next year and we have been looking at colleges, grants, scholarship monies and financial aide already. I learned the first time around..LOL

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