5 Steps to Start the College Conversation

Parents – if you want your child to go to college, you should start talking about it sooner rather than later. How can they know what they want if they aren’t aware of the possibilities? From the small, local community college to the largest state university, there’s an educational setting somewhere where your child can strive.

Here are 5 Steps to Start the College Conversation with your child:

1. START EARLY. As a parent, did you really enjoy your college experience? You may suggest that your child checks out your alma mater. If you were involved with your college, or attended sporting or other events with your family, your child may already be interested just by association.

2. SHOW, DON’T TELL. Is there a college close by? Talk about what goes on there. Attend a sports event or theatrical show, so your child can get a first-hand experience of what is like to be part of the college community. Barbara Cooke, the author of Parent’s Guide to College and Careers: How to Help, Not Hover says, “Show them, don’t tell them. More kids have been inspired about attending college by watching a play, attending a robotics contest, or cheering for a local college football team. Some of the best conversations can happen when you take your children to activities on a college campus.”

3. TALK BEFORE HIGH SCHOOL. The transition to high school is an exciting and tough time for kids. You should start asking your child what they want to be when they grow up, potential schools they want to go to, and what areas of school interest them. Once they enter high school they will feel more comfortable about what classes to take and more prepared to plan out their future. If possible, and when they are old enough, see if your child can get a part-time job in an area that interests them. “Everything you do starting now — in school, after school, and on the weekends — counts towards what you do after high school.” No matter which post-high school choice your child makes, the people accepting or hiring them will pay attention to what they do from ninth grade on.

4. ENLIST ALLIES. Lots of kids just won’t listen to their parents’ opinions. Make sure your child visits and meets with their high school guidance counselor, and that your child’s classes are planned out. Also, encourage your child to talk with relatives, teachers, neighbors, and their friends’ parents about where they went to college, and discuss college expectations.

5. MONEY ISSUES. How are you going to pay for your child’s education? Is there money set aside for them? Will your child have to finance their own education? Have you checked out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)? It’s helpful for your child to know about the financing of her education so they can think about whether they can study and work, go away to school, or should consider a college close by. There are many options like loans, grants, and scholarships to help your child pay for school.

Read more in StudentAdvisor’s Parent’s Survival Guide.

Parents – how did you start talking about college with your child? Comment & share your story below!

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