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How to Prepare for College in High School

The Pre-college Misdirection

Many High Schools have taken on a self-supposed aura as a “college prep school”. Indeed, most parents are more than willing to bestow this upon them. As a result, parents relinquish the responsibility of preparing their kids for college to the teachers and counselors. They think that “how to prepare for college in high school” should be directed first and foremost towards the student, and their children’s guidance comes practically only from the schools.  This central misdirection, we believe, is a root cause for the low college graduation rates, crushing student loan debt and the often-ensuing career dissatisfaction.

Rather, preparing for college in high school needs to be directed first and foremost to the parents or guardians. It must be “parent led”, then it can become “student lived”. Preparing for college in high school must be rooted in the following three principles.

Three Principles to Great College Preparation

Identify the “Key Players”

Let’s start by asking ourselves a simple question: when your student is at college, who bears the responsibilities? In all cases, the student has a decisive role in their college experience. The college itself is responsible to offer the quality education promised; this direct responsibility falls to the professors / instructors. In most cases, the parents share in the responsibility – if for no other reason, they are often paying part of the bills.

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It is vital to understand that in the pre-college process, the role of the (Middle and) High School is that of being a quality resource. At the end of the day, once your student leave the high school, those teachers and counselors bear no responsibility. They can “advise your student” but if the advice is shallow or wrong, they will not be held accountable.  This is reflected in the fact that they do not have any financial obligations to the student and their household, regardless of the quality of advice given.  The decision-makers throughout the pre-college and the college years will be the student and their parents, and at some point the colleges in the selection process.

An Appropriate School Approach

Often we hear children say: “I want to go to this college!” From one side this is a great starting point – our children show orientation on their future. From its shadow side, we see children become “fixed” on a particular school. A key to having success in college preparation is to create appropriate expectations. Quality college preparation in high school begins with your children knowing there are “multiple good colleges”.

Sense of Excellence

I’m sure we have all heard: do what you do to the best of your abilities. It doesn’t matter whether your kids are quick and academically gifted or more practical and hands-on. Having a sense of excellence doesn’t mean that one is perfect or always at the top of the class. For some students, achieving a “C” in a class can be considered an achievement of excellence. It is helpful when our children can see that their parents exhibit a sense of excellence.

“Parent-led, Student-lived” College Preparation

Preparing for college in high school begins with the parents providing the proper framework and inspiration for their children. Communication the three above mentioned principles will go a long way in setting the foundation for quality college preparation in high school. Once our children have internalized this, they can then embark on achieving college success.  Ultimately, we need to grasp “parent-guided, student-lived” college preparation; our kids deserve not just the opportunity for the usual, mediocre college preparation path, but quality, parent-led and -inspired preparation.

About the Author Dija and Robert

Hi and Welcome to the Parents Planning 4 College Family! For years we have been helping families tackle their unique college preparation challenges. We can help reduce your stress and make better quality decisions - and save you a lot of money!

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