No doubt about it – there’s a ridiculous number of things to keep track of when you’re helping your teen plan for college admissions:
- course schedules
- SAT/ACT testing timelines
- college search
- college visits
- college application requirements
- financial aid & scholarships
- deadlines – So. Many. Deadlines.
It’s no wonder that your teen seems all over the place with this stuff.
It’s helpful to have a few tools handy to make this unwieldy process a little more…wieldy. And to save at least a few hairs from turning prematurely gray.
1| Create a College Admissions Binder.
This can be in the form of a 3-ring binder or a filing folder. It’s simply a central place to save and file important bits of information as your teen collects it during the admissions planning process.
The binder can include things like:
- Awards and honors received
- Record of extracurricular activities (Download my Extracurricular Activities Tracker & Ideas Worksheet.)
- Usernames and passwords for college applications
- Brainstorming sheet for essay topics
- Documents received directly from colleges your child is considering
2| Download the High School Course Planner Worksheet.
High school graduation requirements might not be the same as college admissions requirements.
Parents often assume that their kids’ high schools have the college admissions thing figured out, and the whole plan for the students who attend is to be ready to get into the right college fit after graduation. But unless your teen goes to a high school that boasts its commitment to college prep, this may unfortunately not be the case.
So, it’s really up to you to be aware of which courses your teen needs for college admissions.
Don’t let your teenager get caught at the end of senior year without having necessary courses under his belt. Make sure your kid’s got a 4-year course plan to ensure he’s ready for high school graduation and college admissions.
Do these two things:
- First, read What You Need to Know about Choosing High School Courses.
- Then, download my High School Course Planner worksheet for your teen to keep in his binder and to be sure he’s on track for admissions.
3| Buy a big, dry-erase wall calendar to effectively plan for the entire year.
It’ll take a big space on your wall, but it’s an invaluable tool for getting a good perspective on what’s needed before those applications are submitted to colleges and tracking all of those deadlines. I use the At-A-Glance Wall Calendar in my office.
I add lots of things there and the whole family uses it. Get dry erase markers in multiple colors, and then use one color for different categories or for different members of the family. All of the college stuff on mine’s in black, family trips in green, girls’ homework in blue.
You get the gist.
4| Have your teen register for a separate email account.
The flood gates will open with emails as soon as your kid registers on the College Board website and takes the PSAT, or when your teen starts registering at different scholarship sites.
And, of course, your teen will get on the college email lists of those he’s considering applying to, and that’s a good thing.
But seriously, it can be a deluge. We just need to keep this all organized.
One idea is to have your high schooler register for a separate email account to be used solely for the college planning process instead of using a personal email. Gmail is a great option because it’s so easy to create an account. Name it something like “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Your teen can then choose to have the email that’s sent to that account forwarded to his main email account and filed directly to a separate folder.
Just be sure your teen keeps an eye on those emails and doesn’t forget to review them.
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