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Parents need more facts to help with college planning

May 24, 2004|by ROSE RENNEKAMP

Teenagers may tell their parents to leave them alone, but what they won't tell you is that they really do want your help when it comes to planning their way through high school and into college.Almost all (92 percent, according to ACT research) high school sophomores say their parents are helpful when planning their futures. Parents are pretty good at motivating and encouraging their kids, but they don't always have the resources to give students solid information and direction.

The Education Trust says, "College begins in kindergarten." Middle school is the time that students start making choices about courses that will either prepare them for college - or not. Parents need to be involved in their students' middle-school course selection. They especially need to make sure that students are taking the challenging math and science classes that are the entry points to strong college preparation in high school.

If you find it hard to figure out what a student needs to prepare for college, there are a number of places you can go to get solid information.

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For general information, you can probably find the answers on the Internet. Web sites such as www.act.org offer both parents and students a lot of information - a list of courses students need take to prepare for tough college classes, a checklist of what students should do each year in high school, even an estimate of how much college will cost. The U.S. Department of Education also has a lot of information about college planning and financial aid on its Web site, www.ed.gov.

High schools often host informational meetings for parents of juniors and seniors. At those college nights, you can learn a lot about what resources your high school has to offer to students. Try to meet or talk with admissions representatives from different colleges who can tell you what they expect from potential students.

A college night is a great place to talk with your student's counselor. For more specific questions, make an appointment with the counselor. Students and parents should attend these sessions together, and both should bring a list of questions. By opening a dialogue with the counselor, students can show how serious they are about attending college. This could pay off when it comes time for a recommendation to a certain college, or for helpful information that the counselor may pass along.




Rose Rennekamp is the vice president of communications for ACT. Have a question you want answered in a future column? Send an e-mail to AskRose@act.org.

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