How do I prepare my child for college?
Planning for college can begin as early as the sophomore year of high school. Before searching for a college, your child should assess his or her career and life goals carefully. While this will take a bit of soul searching, this can help a child prepare. Determine these goals by sitting down together and asking your child some questions about what would make him or her happy or what his or her strengths and weaknesses are. However, do not push your child toward a field he or she does not prefer.
Many teens have trouble determining their interests. Advise your child to visit his or her high-school guidance counselor and arrange for him or her to take interest-inventory tests, if possible. These tests, also found in college-preparatory books, are useful tools to help focus a student’s natural talents toward the right career path.
Most colleges have many prerequisites. Make sure your child is working toward completing the proper college-preparatory classes in high school. Although requirements vary from school to school and/or major to major, many colleges specify that an applicant must complete the following:
Four years of English
Three years of math: two in algebra, one in geometry
Three years of hard science: biology, chemistry, physics, etc.
Three years of social studies: U.S. history, world history, U.S. government
Two years of a foreign language
Various courses in the arts, computers, typing and other electives
Typically, colleges also require that the high-school student take either the ACT (American College Test, which measures English, math, reading and science skills, and has a maximum score of 36) and/or the SAT I (Scholastic Aptitude Test, which measures verbal and math skills, and has a maximum score of 2400).
Students should take these tests during their junior year. Some colleges may also require students to take the SAT II test, which measures ability in up to 17 different subject areas. The average college-bound test scores are 21 for the ACT and 1509 for the SAT. Your teen’s scores on these exams may limit the choice of schools to which he or she can apply, and each institution sets different minimum scores that it will accept. However, your teen is allowed and encouraged to improve his or her scores by repeating either paid test. You may even advise your child to prepare for these exams with a practice course or test, which are offered in books at any bookstore or through test-preparation programs.
For more information about preparing for college, contact the Admissions and Records Department for the college of interest. Good luck!