If you were asked how best to prepare your child for college, you might say that a well-rounded high school curriculum would be a good start. It may be true that your child needs to be a good student in order to get a foot in the door of higher education. Today, however, getting to college and finishing college are two distinct challenges.
Admissions: Increasing the Odds
Each college and university has admission guidelines that are followed when reviewing applications. Naturally, the first items most likely to be assessed are your child's high school academic record and SAT scores. However, academics are not the only thing that can catch the eye of an admissions director.
Participation in extracurricular activities and civic involvement can sometimes be the deciding factor in whether or not a college chooses to accept your child. Many admissions directors are equally interested in the quality and character of individuals who will be attending their college or university. Thus, it's important for your child to include a résumé of achievements, interests, and volunteer efforts with his or her application. Here are some "extras" that may enhance you child's college application:
- Awards demonstrate formal recognition of an applicant's ability to excel in a particular area.
- Sports participation demonstrates an applicant's competitive spirit and winning attitude, along with the ability to be a "team player."
- Extracurricular activities highlight an applicant's enthusiasm, leadership qualities, and specific interests.
- Volunteering or church/religious involvement often indicates that an applicant is active in the community and possesses moral character and integrity.
- Political involvement can demonstrate an applicant's strong leadership skills and public awareness.
- Work experience can indicate responsibility and a strong work ethic.
- Hobbies and special interests can provide a better understanding of "who" the applicant is, in addition to highlighting other areas of knowledge.
Building the Foundation for Long-Term Success
While parents recognize that the world is changing, today's children must deal with an array of social pressures that may be unfamiliar to most adults. Thus, parents and other role models must work harder to set positive examples and instill good values, in addition to respect for others and overall common sense.
Besides academically "making the grade," a child needs a good attitude. Parents can help children recognize the value of learning and how education is often linked to future success. Making sound choices is equally important. Being an individual rather than a follower isn't always easy. Therefore, children need ongoing encouragement to be the best they can be and to continually strive to reach new heights.
Although you hope your child will use common sense and sound judgment while navigating the maze of college life, remember that growing up takes time and there may be mistakes along the way. The key, however, is to encourage your child to learn from those mistakes, rather than repeating them.
Ultimately, children need to understand the importance of a college education. If you, as parents, and other role models provide emotional support, encouragement, and guidance during these difficult years, it can increase the chances of your child transitioning smoothly to adulthood.