There comes a time in every parent’s life where their child reaches a certain age, and it becomes time to start looking at colleges. It is an extraordinary and exciting time in the life of not only the teenager but also the parents as they prepare to guide their kids through this critical and complicated process. The problem is, just because it is time to look at colleges doesn’t mean you magically get more time in the day to do so.
Your free time does not expand simply because your child is now 16 and ready to start researching schools. Most parents have jam-packed days, including their day job, taking care of a house, and tending to their other children who are not on the college hunt. For the typical parent, the idea of adding a complicated task like keeping up with college admissions could seem flat out impossible.
Unfortunately, this is what I hear when I talk to college graduates about their application process. So many grads regret not putting in enough time and conducting enough research and for many, applying to colleges messy and chaotic. The result being they ended up going to schools that weren’t a great fit and taking out student loans they didn’t understand.
The holiday break is right around the corner. This is a rare time where tasks and responsibilities are at an all-time low for the year. You must use this free time to begin the college planning process. You should be sitting down with your child and having critical conversations without the distractions of the typical everyday life. It is also a chance to map out your plan of attack and determining how you are going to fit this crucial process into your daily life.
#1 – Establish the importance of what is coming next
The common theme across all of my research is that today’s graduates are in the state they are in because they did not understand what was coming next. As previously mentioned, the majority of the grads I interviewed admit they did not put enough time and research into their college search. They ended up choosing a few colleges based on family suggestions or location, and that is where they applied to. It is imperative to have a conversation with your students to help them understand the importance of this process.
A student cannot have the mindset that college application tasks are mundane nuances that are meant to be completed as fast as possible. This is serious stuff and needs to be treated as such. It is time to start becoming an adult and caring about their future without being nagged about it. You can motivate your student to develop this mindset by asking them what they are interested in and passionate about. If you can find ways to connect their passion to a future career, they will begin to be excited about the prospects of college.
This is also a time to explain to them what the real world is like and what will be expected of them. In most of my keynote speeches, I show a slide that outlines how much time you spend at work. This is a solid wake up call for those who do not fully understand how much time, energy, and resources go into your career. By helping your student to understand what’s coming next, it will give them the motivation they need to prepare for their future.
The Holistic Student Planner section on the MyKlovr application is the perfect support tool for this conversation. MyKlovr’s virtual counselor helps students begin building a comprehensive student portfolio. It helps the students see the big picture regarding their personal stories. By the end of there college preparation journey, this profile becomes there showcase college application portfolio.
#2 – Determine how you are paying for college
This is an uncomfortable conversation. As a parent, you want to give you kids everything they want and more than what you had. Graduates, I speak to often talk about never having this conversation. As a parent, you probably are trying to avoid it because you are afraid your child will get discouraged or not try to apply to their dream school.
Based on my research, I highly advise you take this break from school to figure out how much if any, financial aid you are prepared to provide to your child. It is much better to do this now than have them choose a school they cannot afford and be disappointed. Once you determine the amount of money you can offer, you can begin exploring financial aid options. This allows you to set a price range before you start looking at college.
The number one regret of graduates I speak to does not understand the loans they signed up for. Many students applied for the amount they needed without understanding how loans worked or how much they would be required to pay back. Make sure your child understands the basics of a loan and what their financial responsibility will be based on how much money they borrow.
Again, you do not have to tackle this alone, thanks to the Financial Readiness service that MyKlovr offers. This service provides valuable insight into the many financing options that are open to future college students. Once you determine your price range and your student has a full understanding of how loans work, they can use this valuable tool to select the right option for your family.
#3 – Map out key milestones and commit to weekly check-ins
Everything cannot be accomplished in just one week. The college application process is long and includes many time-sensitive milestones along the way. Take the time to map out these milestones and markdown essential dates. For tasks that do not have hard deadlines, assign your deadlines to them. This will ensure that they do not fall through the cracks. Lastly, by creating a roadmap for your journey, you will never have to worry if something is being missed.
However, like most new year’s resolutions, they will fade unless you keep working at them. This is why you should schedule 30-60 minutes on the same day at the same time each week to review your student’s progress. The meeting can cover two main topics: what was accomplished last week and what needs to be started/finished this week. This ensures that you hit every one of your milestones on time. It also ensures that each milestone is given the time and attention it deserves.
Once again, you do not have to tackle this alone. The key function of the MyKlovr app, the Assisted Action Plan, is designed to help you map everything out. You can review this action plan each week during your weekly check-in. It will lay out what is due that week, what is on the horizon, and what else you can do to increase your chances of getting accepted to the college of your choice.
Life is busy and moves very fast. Often, we do not make time for the things that matter most. Be sure that your child’s college application process is not something that has to get squeezed into a packed schedule. With life temporarily slowing down after Christmas, be sure to set aside some time to meet with your child and discuss the points listed above. A few hours this month could result in years and years of a prosperous career and life.
Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.