My First Son is Off To College
With high school graduation season behind us and a faint but pleasant memory, I am taking one huge breath of relief! Then it’s back to reality as I have two more teens who will graduate high school in the next three years.
I was one of the lucky parents who got to experience high school graduation up-close-and-personal this year. Our oldest son (of four) graduated Summa Cum Laude and started college in August. He’s was so excited to go off on his own and start college. We are excited he’s matured into this awesome young adult and we are super proud of him.
So what’s the problem?
The day after graduation also happened to be the first day of summer break for my other children. My youngest, being in 4th grade, got to celebrate with his elementary school friends at a local pool.
While at the pool I ran into several parents who’d also had an older child graduate along with my son and we discovered we had many ‘frustrations’ about this graduation and college admission process in common.
In my career as social media consultant, it’s all about sharing tips and helping a fellow business owner succeed. By hiring me and listening to my advice, business owners save time, money and can let go of frustration. I share updates on the best new social media platforms, the newest technology and great new social media tools to use. I share among my colleagues, as well as with my (potential) clients.
As a fellow parent, a fellow ‘parenting colleague’ if you will, I’d like to give you my top 5 things I now wish I’d known before my son graduated high school. In sharing this with you, I hope to also save you time, frustration and… money.
Therefore, here are the ‘5 Things I Wish I’d Known BEFORE My Son Graduated High School’
- Start your College Search earlier, preferably during Freshman year
Our oldest son went to visit his first college as a junior in high school. He would have been better served if we’d known to take him earlier. I believe this would have helped him make several different (better?) class choices in high school and helped motivate him to do his personal best when things got tough in school.
As a more ‘seasoned’ parent, I just took my next two kids, a rising high school junior and sophomore, on a college tour to five South Carolina colleges and universities this summer.
Besides getting an early feel for college life, it also gave them a glimpse of what sort of college campus they might want to live on; urban, suburban, small, large, private, etc. This will be a great starting point as we do more online research on colleges and universities.
- Book your college tours online, in advance. They fill up fast.
When I took my oldest son to tour colleges last year, I had no idea how the process worked. In order to go on a college tour, you book your tour online; however, they fill up fast! This resulted in us having to take three separate trips over three separate weeks as all the dates we wanted were filled up.
This year, I booked the June tours online, in April, and I was able to fit all five tours in a 2 ½ day period, allowing us to make one large loop around the state of South Carolina, saving us time, gas and money!
- Partner with your child on scholarship searches and applications.
The recurring ‘theme’ among my fellow parenting colleagues (of boys), was the lack of interest in scholarships. Despite weekly scholarship application reminders sent out by the guidance counselor, very few (of our boys) took these opportunities seriously. As we all were striving to make our children independent of us, my friends and I didn’t feel like pushing beyond the reminders. Turns out that strategy wasn’t the best for any of us.
I intend to partner with my next child on this and will offer incentives for completed applications. As teenagers they might work hard all summer for $3000-$4000, yet leave $10,000s on the table in scholarship opportunities. I want to do a better job of getting that message to my next child.
- Plan to attend a function every single night for two weeks leading up to graduation.
This one is not only on me because I grew up in Europe and didn’t attend high school in the USA. Apparently a lot has changed in how we celebrate graduations in this country. My friends were equally surprised at the number of functions, award banquettes and other events we were expected to attend leading up to graduation. Seriously, just block two weeks for this.
- Schedule your College Orientation early in the summer
While going through graduation we had so many things to do and take care of I put college orientation on the back burner. Big mistake! When we finally got around to scheduling my son’s college orientation, I picked a weekend that was convenient for me in July, because all the June spots were full. Turns out, my son couldn’t pick his classes and sign up for classes, until after he had completed orientation. He missed out on several classes he wanted to take his first semester, just because we didn’t know. Of course, somewhere in the orientation packed it stated this, but we totally missed is. Don’t do that! Pick the FIRST available weekend and go!
College Prep Starts Early
To sum it all up, you need to start early!
Use all your available resources, which include
- High school guidance counselor
- College consultant
- Experienced parents
- Online resources
While you may be stressed at times during this process, and sad that one journey has come to an end, don’t forget to enjoy the ride and look towards a new chapter in your life as a parent.
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