4 Things Parents Can Do To Encourage Their High Schooler to Apply for College

As a parent, you want what’s best for your high schooler. You see their potential, their dreams, That spark in their eyes when they make a connection and learn something new. You want to support them as they start their next journey in life: college.

Sometimes it can be tough knowing exactly how to encourage your child in a way that feels helpful without being overwhelming. Here are some practical tips on how to guide and support your teenager as they make the decision to attend college.

1. Communicate

If your teen is on the fence about attending college, open communication is key to helping them make a decision. Sit down with your high schooler and have a heart-to-heart conversation about their goals. What do they want to do for a living? Do they have a passion for science? A knack for writing? An interest in business? Once you have an idea of their career aspirations, discuss with them what it will take to achieve those goals.  Research the educational requirements for their desired career. 

They may want to start an internship following high school to build their resume. Or perhaps a trade school is a possibility. If it sounds like their best option is to go to college, talk with a college admissions consultant about options, ideas for majors, and planning for college while still in high school. Then look into different college programs that are in line with their interests. Openly communicate with your teen about what is required to reach their career goals. You will empower them to take ownership of their future and make informed decisions about it.

2. Encourage and Support

Encourage your teenager to dream big and remind them that they have what it takes to succeed. Support your child as they research and compare colleges, reassuring them that it’s okay to ask for help. Suggest that they create a chart to list which traits are most important to them in a college. For instance, extracurriculars like a swimming team or a chess club, proximity to home, location of campus housing, and similar factors. This will help them prioritize what they’re seeking in each college and decide which ones are most suitable for them. 

You can offer even more direct support by helping them stay organized with application deadlines and proofreading their application essays. Your encouragement will give your teen the confidence they need to tackle the decision-making process with determination and enthusiasm. You’ve been with them their whole life and have seen their goals take shape. Because of that, you can truly help them make sense of their strengths, passions, and aspirations. 

3. Prioritize Learning

While determining what they’re doing after high school may seem all-consuming, your teenager should still continue to prioritize learning. They need to focus on getting good grades, passing standardized tests, and pursuing their passions outside of school. Remind your child that colleges look beyond grades and test scores, although those are an important part of the application. Colleges tend to seek out well-rounded individuals who are curious, engaged, and eager to learn. 

Many high schools offer a variety of electives outside of the core ones. This allows students to explore their interests while still in high school. Encourage your teen to take challenging courses that relate to their interests, showcasing their academic strengths in their field of choice. You can also prioritize learning by example. Read educational books or take courses online to show your child that continuous learning is a part of life. There are many sites with free online courses for adults, including Harvard University

4. Visit Colleges Together

Campus visits are a powerful way to build excitement for college life. You’ll most likely have a session where a representative from the admissions office talks to you about the college. Following this informative talk, you’ll enjoy a tour of the campus, typically given by current college students. You’ll see the main parts of the college, different educational buildings, the library, and where to eat. You’ll also have plenty of time to ask questions and get an honest opinion from real people. 

When your teen sees how different college is from high school, they may be surprised and impressed. They may see students eating lunch at Chick-fil-a or Chipotle. There may be nice, grassy areas where students can be seen studying or just hanging out under the trees. They may even be in awe of the huge campus library. Encourage your teen to take notes at each campus visit to remember their impressions. Afterward, discuss what they liked and didn’t like about each college. A tour can help them make a final decision when the time comes.

College Bound

Encouraging your high schooler to apply for college is a journey filled with excitement, challenges, and growth opportunities. You can guide your teenager as they decide to go to college, choose which one to attend, and complete the application process. 

Remember that this is their journey. Your role as a parent is to provide guidance, encouragement, and support as they take this important step toward their future. With your help, your high schooler will be well-equipped to navigate the process of selecting a college and applying for admission. They’ll be ready to pursue their dreams with passion and determination.