This is typically the first year of high school. It is important to explain to your child that every grade from now on counts towards their high school GPA (Grade Point Average). Some students will assume they will be able to slide by like they have in the past, but high school is a very different environment. High schools are serious about attendance and grades, a student can miss class only so many days before he or she must make up the time in order to get credit for graduation. These credits are watched closely by school personnel, but ultimately it should be the student’s responsibility. If they can drive a car, shouldn’t they be expected to go to class and perform at an adequate level? High school is training ground for life and if they can’t perform here, what will their future look like?
Students should begin searching and applying for scholarships in earnest. Spending a few minutes each day or a couple of hours a week is a very good practice. Scholarships based on written material are particularly good. And here is something good to know – you can re-use writing samples for scholarships. Students should develop an essay “bank” or repertoire to be drawn from as needed for writing samples, scholarship entries or college essays. It makes it much easier when a student doesn’t have to start from scratch each time. Word of warning – DO NOT PLAGERIZE! This is an area which is closely scrutinized. Students, do your own work!
YOUR HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR
VERY IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS – - you do not need to pay for scholarship searches! There are multiple free resources out there. While they may offer good tips, these pay-for services cannot guarantee a scholarship. Beware of these services. A good high school counselor has a lot of great resources and information about scholarships. But you will need to see them, don’t wait for them to come to you. They won’t – they don’t have time. And by chance your school counselor doesn’t help, go to the lead counselor and see if you can get help from him or her. Don’t give up, they have great resources to offer.
Students – get to know your school counselor! They are a wealth of information including what options you might have to get college hours in high school. Ask your school counselor.
Continue to look at colleges and begin to narrow down your choices. You need to visit these campuses if at all possible. Finding the right school is important. Colleges/universities are very different and have their own culture. If the student doesn’t “fit in”, he or she will be less likely to stick it out when things get tough. Students, you will never forget your college days, so make the best choice you can.
Community service is an area colleges want students to be involved in, so students should find ways to volunteer as soon as possible. Talk to your church, your school counselor, the local food bank, wherever you can think of. Just a few hours a month will be a big help to an organization and will look really good on a college portfolio. Keep up with where, when and who. Begin to ask for recommendation letters.
FIND YOUR NICHE
High school is a great time to get involved. Students who are involved are much less likely to make poor choices. Make sure your child is involved in something – sports, music, debate, clubs, etc. There are many choices in high school, and should be listed on their website or in the course guide. If your child can’t find one, many schools will consider allowing you to start your own.
PARENTING – YOU’RE NOT DONE YET
Parents, keep parenting. These are adolescents who are fast becoming young adults, but they have much to learn yet. There is plenty of temptation and poor choices in high schools. If you need proof, visit the local high school and it will be obvious very quickly. Continue to be involved and be watchful!
Begin to discuss financial planning. This is an area that is neglected in school. They will learn economics, but they need to learn personal banking and financial management from you. The NEFE course from Junior Achievement is particularly good.
Stay involved. Go to your child’s events at school and extra-curricular activities. Continue to be a presence.
Get to know their friends. Invite them over.
Plan for the future.
Listen. Talk. Compromise.
Discuss – - everything.