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The Journey to College Starts Now

A parent’s guide to preparing children for college in 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades

Getting a child into college takes years of hard work and planning. What can you do to prepare them for college as they move through high school? No matter if your student is a freshman or senior, there are steps you can take to ensure he or she gets into that dream school.

9th-grade college prep

Think of freshman year as laying the foundation for a high school career. Start thinking of the big picture. Where does your child want to go to college and beyond?

Meet with the school’s guidance counselor to start exploring possible career options. Be sure your child enrolls in the appropriate college-prep classes. Many schools now have specialized programs for Pre Med and Pre Law, so consider those opportunities as well.

Do not ignore the school’s extracurricular activities. Your child should get involved in activities or clubs that are of interest and can provide a grounding in a possible career path.

This is also the year to start investigating colleges or technical schools.

10th-grade college prep

A career trajectory should be in sight at this point. Your child should continue to focus on maintaining a strong GPA and taking academic courses that prepare him or her for the future.

Start preparing for the PSAT, ACT, and SAT. Look into a study program or practice tests.

College research should continue, with an emphasis on entrance requirements.

11th-grade college prep

Junior year is when college planning kicks into high gear. Your child should take the PSAT in the fall in order to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program, which can contribute significantly to your college fund.

Consider what kind of education is required to pursue certain career goals. Look into all paths, including necessary college degrees, vocational/technical training, or a military career.

Look into the testing schedule for the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP exams. If your child needs extra tutoring or a test prep course, ask the guidance counselor for recommendations.

If your child is interested in pursuing an athletic scholarship, he or she will need to start the certification process in order to be eligible. Read up on NCAA academic requirements, too.

The summer between junior and senior year is also a time for college campus visits so you can determine which school might be the best fit.

12th-grade college prep

Senior year is when plans for college should finally come together. Stay organized so your child does not miss critical deadlines.

It is time to finalize college wish lists. Include the dream schools as well as a few backups. Meet with the school’s guidance counselor to be sure you are aware of entrance requirements for those schools.

Your child should take (or retake) standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. You can request that scores be sent directly to selected colleges as well.

Be sure to ask teachers, coaches, and other mentors for letters of recommendations to enhance college applications.

Once you have everything in hand, it is time to fill out those college applications, including test scores, transcripts, recommendations, and college essays.

It is also important to research scholarships and other financial aid options. Be sure to check out our AHS blog on ways to finance a college education.

College prep: think like a marathon runner

Getting your child into college is like a long-distance race. Hopefully, this guide will help you stay organized, but be sure to speak to your school’s guidance counselor for advice and direction as well.

American Heritage School is committed to helping every student reach their college and career goals. Call 561-495-7272 to schedule a personalized campus tour and see for yourself why our students graduate with the skills they need to succeed.