Parenting teenagers is hard. You’re still responsible for taking care of them, but they are itching to become adults. Nowhere is this more obvious than during the college search. College enrollment rates have gone up 195% since 1970, meaning your child will likely attend college after high school. While you can be an enormous asset to your teenager, the end decision is going to come down to them. You’re there to provide support and assistance. Here are five tips to help you help your teen start their college search.
Let Them Know It’s Up to Them
If your teen tends to be unmotivated, they might try to let you take over the college application process for them. Don’t do it. While it might seem like the easiest option for both of you, you need to make sure that your teen knows they’re in charge. They’re the one who is going to live with the decisions they make during the college admissions process, for better or for worse. So make sure that they have the final say in anything that you do.
Teach Them Organizational Skills
You can start this tip early on in parenting teenagers. Help them learn how to be organized. College applications involve a lot of different parts and your teen will be responsible for all of them. They’ll need to handle admissions essays, school deadlines, and financial aid for each school they consider. If they have experience being organized before this, it’ll make the process much easier.
Help Them Find All Their Options
Your teen might not realize how many options they have after high school. One great way to help them is to work together and figure out what is possible. Consider everything: their interests, your family’s financial situation, and any other factor that could come into play. Look online for other ideas. Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches each day, according to Live Stats. You can use it to look into new programs and possibilities for your teen.
Attend a College Tour
Many teens don’t know exactly how college works. They might have an idea from older friends or from movies, but they haven’t experienced it themselves. Likewise, you might remember how college was when you were a teen, but things have changed. Sign up for a tour at a nearby college together. Even if it isn’t one that your child is considering attending, going to the campus can give both of you an idea of the reality of college as you look into different options.
Help Figure Out Financial Aid
College is expensive. If your child is taking out loans, they need to understand how the loans work. The paperwork they fill out are legal documents, so they need to treat them as such. Signing a contract makes them responsible. It also means they are entitled to certain things from the other party. If they think there’s a breach of contract, they’ll need to prove that the contract exists and that the other party is at fault. This can be overwhelming for a teen, so make sure that you help them out. Financial aid should be taken seriously from the start and you can set a good example for your teen by helping with it.
Getting ready for college is part of parenting teenagers. It can be both exciting and frustrating. By getting involved in the college search, you can help them get on the right path toward finding the school for them. Don’t take over the search process, let them lead and figure out what they want. But your support will be invaluable to them as they take this step toward adulthood.