Family & Community

Helping a student prepare for college can be exciting and overwhelming. There are a lot of deadlines and steps to take even before a student arrives on a college campus. Knowing where to start and what to do can be confusing, especially if you are helping a student navigate this process for the first time. Fortunately, you are not alone!

Getting Your Student to College

  1. It is never too early to start planning! Reach out to teachers, counselors, after school program staff, friends, family, and members in the community for advice on how to help your student prepare for college. Your network is larger than you think. You can begin by researching schools online. You can also find a lot of online information for each step of the college process, like this. 
  2. Encourage your student to apply to a college access program. There are many school and community-based programs that help students get ready for college. Federally funded TRiO programs exist in almost every state, you probably have a program at your students' school and don't even know! These TRiO programs help students who will be the first in their family to go to college.
  3. Encourage your student to take challenging courses. Taking rigorous courses that will challenge your student will help them do well in college. Ask what courses are available at your students' school (if possible, speak to your student's counselor). Make sure your student is taking the most difficult level of classes they can handle. Consider what classes they do well in and have them try taking a higher level of that class. You can also have them think about taking a free college course while they are still in high school!
  4. Contact your local college or university. Many colleges or universities run programs for high school and college students to help them enroll and graduate. You can visit the schools' website and search things like TRiO, EOP, or first-generation to find support programs. Visiting campuses during Open House events are also a good idea. These events can help you learn a lot about the programs at a school and get more familiar with the campus experience.
  5. Learn more about ways to pay for a college education. A college education is a significant investment. Prepare yourself with information about paying for college and make sure that your student submits timely FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) and scholarship applications. This can go a long way to make college more affordable.

Helping Your Student Graduate from College

  1. Your student has many resources at the University and Academic Advising is a critical one. Every student has both a primary and secondary advisor assigned to them.  (They can find their advisor by logging onto WebCentral and looking at View Student Information on the Registration/Records tab.)  Whether your student has decided on a major, or is still considering their options, Academic Advisors are there to support them.  Advisors are available for all students and assist in course selection, as well as answering any questions students might have about academic requirements. Academic Advising is an ongoing process throughout their University experience and students should plan to meet with their advisor at least once every semester.  
  2. Living at home vs living on-campus. The decision to live at home or on-campus should be weighed carefully. Living on-campus does make it easier for your student to take advantage of opportunities that add to the learning experience; living-learning communities, volunteer and experiential learning opportunities, and participation in student clubs and activities can help your student grow their networking abilities and prepare for the next step after graduation however, It does add to the cost of attendance. If your student will be living at home, encourage them to stay on campus for as long as possible so they can take advantage of these opportunities outside of class. Students who spend more time on campus are also more likely to do better academically.
  3. Encourage your student to get help if needed. Everyone struggles at some point. For many students, it can be the first time they struggle academically and/or socially. Campuses provide students with tutoring, mentoring, and health & wellness resources. You may also want to discuss with your student how many hours of work is doable for them to still maintain good grades. Many students find it difficult to work more than 20 hours per week and still get all their work done. 
  4. Don't Forget the FAFSA. The FAFSA must be completed every year! Encourage your student to begin the process early (FAFSA opens on OCT 1st) and to keep looking for scholarship opportunities beyond their first year.