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ModernHen on College Prep: Is it that time already?

college prep checklist

Jennifer Henderson

Seems like just yesterday that my soon-to-be sophomore was toddling around at my feet holding Eeyore by the tail and babbling on about Blue’s Clues, and now we find ourselves closing out freshman year and contemplating the future ahead.  It’s been a few months since we sat in his guidance counselor’s office where she went through a flurry of forms, talked PSAT, and Texas scholarship opportunities.  I’m sitting there thinking about how we get through next week, not the next three years.  It’s sobering how early we need to start.  As a side note:  I’m pretty sure senior year was when I started pulling myself together and thank goodness VA Tech takes in a whole slew of freshman and allows the course load to weed out the weak (I managed to make it by the skin of my teeth).  Not the case here, we are thinking about grades constantly, credits, where he stands now, worst case scenarios, best case scenarios, volunteer opportunities, etc.  and we’ve already started scoping colleges near and far.  The stress associated with these activities will only increase, as will the anxiety of your first born leaving the nest.  So here are ModernHen’s Top Tips for college prep: 

  • Make sure your kid has some ownership over the activities.  Here’s what I mean:  you know the AP test is coming up.  He/she knows you know.  Let him or her come to you requesting the check.  Let him or her tell you that they are studying.  It’s okay to check in, but you checking the school calendar online then pinning the check to his/her shirt and downloading study materials for review is a no-go.  I guess you could have figured me for that mom (less the check pinning) and boy, was that a hard lesson to learn.  Less can be more, especially where initiative is concerned.
  • Instead of shoving your kid into a ton of extracurriculars, hone in on the extracurriculars that correlate to their interests and goals, and may in effect further their future field of study.  My teen isn’t into a load of sports, but he likes filming, editing, and writing screenplays, so we’ve sought out opportunities for him to showcase his talents and to improve his skills.  These opportunities will help him build his college resume, which brings me to…
  • The college resume – I say resume, but this document is really a great tool to keep track of the many activities and accomplishments over elementary (if applicable), junior high (if applicable), and high school.  Nothing like sitting in front of a stack of college applications a day before the deadline and trying to remember what you did and what is going to set you apart.  Dave Berry, of College Confidential really gives you everything you need from putting your best foot forward, to essay examples, to college reviews, and so much more. 
  • Explore all your options, even the non-college ones.  I loved college.  Don’t know where I would be without it, but even as a master’s graduate, I can acknowledge and appreciate that college isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t necessarily going to make your dreams come true.  So, as you sit down to talk to your teen about his/her goals/dreams, where does college fit?  Does he/she need to head off to a 4-year school right away or could he/she take advantage of an accelerated high school/junior college program?  Could he/she benefit from another year or two at home while attending junior college?  Would he or she consider the military?  Having been in the military, I am a huge proponent, as it paid for my master’s degree completely and gave me a solid foundation for beginning my career.  Additionally, does what your student loves require a degree?  It may be best to start by researching (you & your student together) the requirements for that particular interest and go from there.  Finally, since you know their minds will change a hundred times between now and then, save all your research, ideas, college interests, etc. in one place.  Your teen will surely appreciate you for taking the initiative on that one. 

I welcome any comments/suggestions on the topic or any toddler “Eeyore” stories, especially if you are about to have a graduate.  I’ll send you a virtual hug and remind you that you about to take your first really hot shower in 4 years. 

Clucks and hugs,


P.S.  While you are supporting and helping your teen get prepared to fly the coop, consider helping a teen on the verge of dropping out.  This may help you and your teen put things in perspective.  You can find more information about motivating teens to stay on track and other mentoring opportunities at BoostUp because you’ve got more love to give.  


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