Planning for college can be an exciting time for high school seniors, full of the anticipation of moving out, pursuing a degree they’re passionate about, and experiencing that first taste of independence.
For parents, it’s an exciting time because your child is finally moving out on their own. This can also be a scary and nerve-wracking time. Maybe even a little sad (your little one definitely isn’t so little anymore!).
But maybe as you’re reading this, your teen isn’t getting ready to graduate high-school. Perhaps they haven’t even started high school yet. If so, there’s a question that may be in the back of your mind: when is it too early to start planning for college? Is it best to start preparing as early as possible, or wait until high school? Should you wait a little longer to begin touring colleges and universities or get a head-start?
How early is too early?
Here’s the short answer: it’s really never too early to prepare for college!
Think about it this way: the earlier you begin with college prep, the more prepared you’ll be in the long run. Less chances of hiccups or mistakes, and more opportunities for your child. High schoolers definitely need to start planning for college, but even middle schoolers can start to formulate some idea of what they would be interested in studying and what schools they might like to attend.
College can be such a huge milestone for kids, so it’s important to consider this when coming up with a college plan. Having a proper plan can prevent failure or disappointment later down the road. Plus, having a set of goals can help you think about how to achieve them. If your child is set on attending a certain school, it’s a good idea to make some preparations like learning when to apply, what’s needed in their application, how to craft a well-written essay, and so much more.
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What about finances?
Here’s where it really helps to begin early. When it comes to finances for college, every parent knows that it isn’t cheap. Therefore, it helps to start saving money as early as you can and searching for other ways to offset the expenses that come with being a college student.
There are also thousands of scholarships and grants that middle school and high school students can apply for. Applying early for legitimate scholarships opens up more possibilities for finances than you might have available closer to the time they enroll in college. The earlier you start, the more opportunity for your child to have the money that they’ll need once they get ready to actually begin college.
Who else can I turn to?
When you’re preparing for college with your child, the important thing to understand is that you’re not alone in the process. Luckily, there are a number of people you can turn to for help and guidance. The college process is often tricky to navigate, so it helps to have knowledgeable people on your side.
Naturally, the first person you might think of is a high school counselor. It is their job to assist your child in the college admission process, so don’t overlook them!
Teachers can also offer great advice. If your child is struggling in a subject, they can direct them to services that will help your child overcome their academic weaknesses.
As your child preps to take the ACT or SAT, you may also want to consider hiring a tutor, one that can guide your child to understanding these often complicated exams.
These days, it’s better to begin planning for college as early as you can. The last thing you want is you or your child to wish you had more time to apply for scholarships or to plan things out properly.