Collegebound Network

Since 1987, America's Trusted Resource on Higher Education

Helping Your Child Apply to College

As a parent, you play a very influential role in helping your child choose a college. While he/she will make the final decision, your input can be quite helpful in the process. Here is a step-by-step timetable, courtesy of Margaret Sebastianelli, director of the student services center at Penn State, which can benefit your soon-to-be high school graduate.

Sophomore Year
1. Get an idea of your teen's geographic preferences and the type of school he/she wants to attend. Does he/she wish to commute or live in a dorm?

2. Visit schools' Web sites -- they are easy to access and highly informative. Here you can find out about majors, tuition, financial aid policies, and more.

3. Make sure your teen takes the PSAT.

4. Figure out anticipated expenses and an agreeable budget.

5. Plan campus tours. One helpful hint is to limit yourself to one visit per day.

6. Encourage your teen to get involved in extracurricular activities, which are "great indicators of what it takes to manage time in college," says Sebastianelli.

Junior Year
7. Make sure your child is striving for a high average -- this is the year most universities consider when reviewing applications.

8. Advise your teen to sign up for, study, and take the SAT or ACT. Registration deadlines for these exams are a month ahead of the exam dates.

9. Help your teen narrow down his/her number of college choices, and request applications to schools on the list.

Senior Year
10. Help your teen apply to their schools of choice. Consider early decision or early application options if he/she is absolutely certain about a school.

11. Allow your college-bound teen to stay overnight at the selected schools they are still considering. It will give him/her a feel for what life is like at the college.

12. Make appointments to discuss educational plans and choices with faculty members at the school, specifically concerning financial aid options.