So My Teen is Done With College Apps — Now What?
A few things to keep in mind after your teen submits his or her college applications
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College application season is coming to a close and high school seniors everywhere are finding it a little bit easier to breathe after completing all of the essays and filling out the Common App. As that stress leaves, you and your student might wonder what’s next in this journey. As I’m going through this process, too, here are some things I’ve realized I have to keep in mind — even after submitting all of my applications.
Money: The FAFSA and Scholarships
One of the biggest concerns when applying to college is how much it costs. Everyone wants more money to help pay for their education, so making sure your teen is taking as many opportunities as possible to earn or acquire some extra money will help both parents and students in the long run. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, aka FAFSA, is probably the most important step when looking for college financial aid — but it’s also one of the most neglected steps. I know too many people who don’t fill it out because they don’t believe they’ll get aid. Apply ASAP to make sure that you have a chance to get aid from your school of choice. Most colleges have a limited amount of money to give away for the FAFSA, so filling it out as early as possible will increase your opportunity for aid.
Scholarships are also often forgotten about, even though they’re probably the most talked-about solutions for more college money. There are many scholarships available for every demographic, at every level of difficulty. If your student is worrying about not having enough time to write essays for scholarships, there are plenty of one-click scholarships that do not require essays. Make sure your teen knows the variability of scholarships available to him or her and how that money will help both you and your teen in the long run, even if it is only worth a small amount of money. Consider school-offered scholarships and browse websites outside of the school system (such as Cappex and Unigo) that offer scholarships.
Other School Programs
Most colleges and universities offer programs for honors students, campus work and sometimes specialized clubs. These programs often provide more privileges, opportunities and experiences that future college students may find helpful after they apply to graduate school and as they apply for work in their selected field. These programs also have the potential to offer scholarship money. Make sure you discuss the benefits of these programs with your teen. These programs can help your teen gain life skills and experiences outside of the college classroom.
The last, and probably most important, aspect of going through the college application process with your student is keeping communication open about everything college-related. Make sure you communicate with your teen about college costs (if they have to help pay for tuition, room and board, etc.), and also talk about any concerns or questions your teen might have about college. This is an extremely stressful and important time for both parents and their teens because of this big change that will be coming into both of your lives. For parents, being able to talk to your teens about college decisions without pressuring your teen too much is a hard balance to strike. As decision time comes around, make sure your student knows he or she can talk to you openly about any concerns he or she may have about which colleges to apply to or attend. Encourage decisions and discussions, don’t pressure your teen, and keep in mind that your teen is probably experiencing just as much stress as you did when making your final enrollment decision.
These are just some things to keep in mind as you continue the process of college admissions. Take it from a teen going through this: Talk with your teen about the process. Making sure both of you are on the same page is crucial when the time comes to make those final decisions.