Graduating your teenagers from your homeschool is a bittersweet experience. They’re off to explore the world, your baby is leaving the nest, and a new era is beginning. However your work isn’t done yet, Mom. Here are 5 things I discovered about getting a teen into college.
Getting a Teen into College
Stay on Top of Requirements
Have you seen as many hoops to jump through as trying to get your child into college? First there are the applications and each school has a different deadline. Then chatting with administration to ensure the proper documents have been filed.
Each family, school, and child has different requirements. I was chatting on a local board that colleges accepted my children’s transcripts grouped by subject. Another woman piped up. Her children were in the running for competitive scholarships and needed a traditional transcript grouped by year, not subject. Grouping courses by subject was unacceptable.
This is to say, make certain you know the requirements for the schools your children are interested in attending. Double check requirements for scholarships.
Requirements change, so don’t assume just because it worked for your next door neighbor it will work for you.
Don’t Forget the FAFSA
The FAFSA is a free application for federal student aid. It’s also what most colleges and universities use to determine student need. You’ll want to fill it out as soon as possible. Some awards are based on first come – first serve.
The sooner you fill out the FAFSA, the further ahead in line you are.
Keep in mind this year the FAFSA changed. You can now fill it out as early as October and use last year’s tax data. You no longer have to return to the FAFSA to update your tax information in April!
Filling out the FAFSA is not one of my top ten favorite tasks, and doing it twice didn’t make it any better.
Financial Aid & Administration Don’t Talk
The financial aid department and administration don’t seem to communicate well at any college I’ve dealt with. For instance, I thought sending in the final official transcript to administration would obviously inform the school, and the financial aid department, my son had graduated high school.
No. Financial aid needed a copy of his high school diploma.
You need to check with both departments periodically to ensure you’ve submitted all needed information. Otherwise you may find your child has been place in an uncompleted file and forgotten.
That’s a lousy place to be when your kid is looking forward to heading off on a new adventure.
Colleges Don’t Need the Same Information
After jumping through hoops to discover what forms my oldest son’s college required, I made certain the forms were printed out and prepared before heading to my second son’s college the next year. Much to my disgust and amusement, none of my carefully prepared forms were needed.
They needed a different set of forms.
This is just to say don’t count on colleges all needing the same information. Stay in contact with each college to ensure that you’ve jump through the right hoops to get your teenager into the school.
Walk Your Teen Through the Steps
Teenagers may act and be adults in many respects, but they’re missing the experience. They don’t know the hoops to jump through. It’s little things such as knowing to follow through with financial aid, what questions to ask, and what forms to fill out.
It’s not a question of they can’t do it, it’s a question of needing to be guided that first year.
Next year they’ll have the experience they need to follow through by themselves. Although you may need to make a reminder call or two. But this year, your teenagers need you to guide them through the process.
Walk through the steps and explain what’s going on. Have your child make the calls, fill out the forms, and put the dates on the calendar. It’s all part of transitioning from child to adult.
Transitioning teenagers from high school to college is a learning experience for everyone involved. I needed to learn how to guide my teens through the changing hoops while they needed to learn how to navigate and jump those hoops.
Have you transitioned a child from high school to college? What are your best tips for getting a kid into college?