In this column, GHS counselor Lucas Inman explores the five most common college planning questions.
How should high school students prepare for college? • Take rigorous courses, especially in areas of greatest strength, while in high school. • Be cognizant of non-academic traits. Work ethic, perseverance and the ability to handle stress will play a crucial role in college. • Take appropriate risks and embrace new opportunities.
What are factors to consider when selecting a college? This varies for everyone and there is no correct answer. However, an important first step is to bring a parent and take an official campus tour. Picking a college is similar to buying a house. Regardless of your criteria you never truly know until you see it in person. The first visit will help answer a lot of questions and begin to create positive momentum in this process. The summer between 10th and 11th grade is a nice time to begin considering a campus tour.
What if I fear my student might have limited college options? There are more options for post-secondary education today than ever. Odds are high there is an appropriate fit for your student somewhere. Instead of concentrating on getting intocollege refocus your thoughts on getting through college. Focus on course rigor, study habits, accountability and resiliency while in high school. If you do this the rest will take care of itself.
What type of extra-curricular activities should my student focus on? Keep in mind that being a well-rounded student is important, but academics (GPA, SAT score, rigor) will make up the bulk of their college application. Yet leadership opportunities and deep, long-standing commitment are often viewed favorably in terms of extra-curricular activities. This includes having a job.
My child does not know what they want to do for a career. Help! This is normal and in many aspects healthy. I recommend two things: First, focus on the areas in which they are the academically strongest. Passions in life evolve and change. It’s not always practical to expect a high school student to know their life-long interest at 15 years old. Instead, reframe the conversation about what they are good at in school. Then look into careers in those fields. If they are competent and confident in their career, the odds they become passionate and enjoy the profession increase greatly. Secondly, even if your student knows what they want to study in college, continue to have dialogue and challenge those thoughts. Many students change majors – and extend time in college – because their intended career path was not thoroughly explored.