There is a lot to consider when preparing for college. Some of the questions you might have include:
- What college is best for you and the career you want to go into?
- How will you pay for everything?
- Will you have to work while you are in school?
- Do you want to live on or off-campus?
- Should you go to a junior college before transferring to a university?
- Do you want to choose a college close to home to save on living expenses?
Thankfully, there are many ways to help make college less overwhelming. Take a look at these tips to help you get started.
What Careers Are You Interested In?
There are so many career choices and pathways, and not everyone is born knowing what they want to do. Here are some ways to help you decide what your college path should be:
- Asking family members and other adults in your life about their careers
- Asking questions and researching careers
- Taking an aptitude test to help you find what you’re good at and passionate about
- Joining groups such as Junior Achievement
- Attending College and Career Fairs
High school guidance counselors, like Mr. Beebe at TIA, are a valuable resource. They can help with college preparations. In addition to working with you to choose high school courses that will benefit you in your transition to college. They can also:
- Help make lists of colleges and college majors that suits you
- Provide information and help you qualify for scholarships, grants, and financial aid
- Give guidance on standardized testing, scholarship essays, and admission essays
Get involved in extra-curricular activities — it looks good on applications and helps you develop life skills. Extra-curricular activities are also a great way to learn networking skills that can help in your future career and help improve your overall college experience.
Create a Budget
Starting a savings account early can be a good strategy for preparing for college and the many financial costs. Having a cushion of savings can help relieve some of the stress of deciding where to go to college. It will also be a big factor in deciding if you will have to work while attending classes. Working part-time while in high school is a great way to start saving. However, you shouldn’t neglect your schoolwork for a job.
Deciding on living situations is another important aspect of your first year in college. How far away from home your choice of school is will have a factor in your options. Living at home while attending college has benefits like not having to buy groceries or pay rent. The first year of college can also be stressful, and it may help to stay close to friends and family.
If you choose a college farther from home, living in a dorm versus living in a house or apartment with others will affect your budget.
How Can You Earn Income and What Are Some Potential Expenses?
Income can come from:
- A part-time job
- Parental support
- Scholarships and grants
- Financial aid and loans
- Other income, such as if you sell crafts or do freelance work
Expenses you might have include:
- Transportation costs such as fuel, insurance, or bus fares
- Rent if not living on campus, as well as utility bills
- Entertainment costs
- Tuition, books, and supplies
- Beauty supplies
What Can Parents Do to Help?
There are a variety of ways you can help in your child’s college preparations:
- Start saving money early. There are options like 529 plans that allow you to save money tax-free for your child’s education. Creating a Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) account also gives you resources for scholarships, grants, and other ways to invest and save money for your child’s college needs.
- Model healthy life habits and teach them to your children. Instill a love for knowledge by reading, learning, and exploring together. Time-management skills can help them when creating their class and study schedules, as well as making time for fun.
- Help your child figure out how they learn best and study skills for their style of learning. Create an open dialogue with your child so that they feel comfortable talking to you about their hopes, dreams, and plans for their future.
- Research colleges with your child and schedule campus visits during their junior and senior year to learn about the atmosphere of their favorite schools. You can also help your child take note of application requirements and keep track of deadlines.
What TIA Does for Their Students
Every graduating TIA student gets accepted to college with financial aid and/or scholarships due to the help that the TIA leadership teams contribute to each student. TIA middle and high school students have many opportunities to explore careers and college through events such as the College and Career Fair, fields trips to tour colleges, business classes, clubs such as Junior Achievement, and one-on-one help from Mr. Beebe, (the College and Career Readiness Coach).
Looking for a great school to help you prepare and get accepted to college?