Parents

Between activities, courses, exams and extra lessons, high school can be a stressful time for students. However, it can easily be just as stressful for parents.

If you have been wondering how to become more involved in your child’s most important years in school, we have assembled a list of tips for doing just that, including important events and people in your child’s school life.

Familiarize yourself with your child’s course schedule

If you don’t know what courses your child is taking next year, you should. If you get excited about learning, your child will too. Find out what is on your child’s reading lists for their English and global studies courses. Engage your child in conversations about the material they are studying at the dinner table. By discussing topics your child is learning in school at home, you can understand the subject better yourself, and thus hopefully make your child feel more confident about participating in class discussions.

Know your child’s standardized testing plan and help them prepare.

Review your child’s testing schedule with them and with the high school college counselor at the beginning of the year. Remind your child to sign up for the standardized tests required for admission into many colleges (SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, TOEFL/IELTS, and AP exams) well in advance and procure proper test preparation as well. You can also leave subtle (or not so subtle) hints reminding your child to study. Leave an SAT, ACT, or AP practice test book next to their bed, on the front seat of the car, or in the bathroom!

Foster a good relationship with the high school college counselor. Schedule a meeting with your child’s high school college counselor at the beginning of the year.

Encourage your child to start making appointments with their college counselor early in the year. As the parent, you should also introduce yourself to the guidance counselor. Let the counselor get to know you and your child. Remember, this counselor will be writing a letter of recommendation on behalf of your child, so it is a good idea to get to know this person as early as possible. Make sure the list of colleges the counselor recommends is balanced with reach, target, and safety schools and finalize it with the counselor’s help.

If you or your child has any questions about when to apply, ask the counselor about what method is best for your student. Also if either you or your child has questions about anything on the applications, ask the counselor.

Encourage your child to nurture their relationships with their teachers.

Most likely, two of your child’s teachers will be writing their letters of recommendation. Ask your child how these relationships are going, but try not to pry. Encourage your child to meet with their teachers outside of the classroom, to participate in school activities, and to go above and beyond their basic assignments.

Begin college visits.

Once you meet with your child’s high school counselor, you can get an idea of which colleges will meet your child’s academic and personal needs. Map out the school year calendar — use holidays, long weekends, and any vacation during the school year for campus visits. And though you may accompany your child to their prospective colleges and facilitate logistics, you should remain at arm’s length. Ultimately, it is their visit and their decision.

Look over your child’s activity list before they send in the applications.

Often a student will forget to mention things on their application. These things are often awards they have received or activities they participated in during the school year or summer. Parents should serve as a tickler — a reminder of the things they’ve accomplished that they might have forgotten. You can even check the time commitments for each entry, add them up, and make sure your child represents themselves in the best, most accurate way possible. However, don’t write essays or over-edit applications.

In addition to remembering that they (rather than “we”) are applying to college, there’s one more way you can help your student make the most of this process: Don’t panic! You don’t want to add to college admissions stress. With your support and that of the high school counselor, if your child creates a balanced college list, they will get into a “good fit” college where they will be successful and happy. Chances are, that’s the role you’d like them to enjoy the most.

What’s Next?

Read our Ultimate Guide to ACT Test Prep — it summarizes everything you’ll need to know, whether you are preparing to take the ACT next month or in a few years.

Thinking about getting a tutor for ACT Writing prep? Our online ACT test prep will teach you to apply these strategies and many more for success on the ACT. Get in touch to schedule a free lesson or take a free practice test.