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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Preparing your child for higher learning
Parents take on role of guidance counselor
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:07 am
by Elizabeth Davenport PhD

Deciding where to go to college is one of the biggest decisions a teen will make as they transition into adulthood.

As with any major decision, the best choice is made after carefully considering all the facts and exploring all options. But who is responsible for providing students with the necessary information they need to prepare for college and make the best decisions about where to attend?

This responsibility has traditionally fallen on high school counselors, but given the budgetary cuts to K-12 education, access to counselors may be limited or completely unavailable in some cases.

Therefore, it is important for parents to step in and act as academic advocates for their children by providing the advice they need for college admission.

Start early
Early college planning is a critical factor in determining whether a student will pursue and obtain a college degree. Preparation should begin long before your child even enters high school. Beginning as early as sixth grade is ideal.

Parents and guardians can start by encouraging children to participate in activities outside of the classroom environment. This is important for personal development. It also provides leadership opportunities for your child and is a way for them to differentiate themselves from other college applicants in the future.

Being involved in outside activities also contributes to a wide range of developmental outcomes that can affect a student’s academic success, including time management, critical thinking and cooperative learning. It can also help them ace those college essays, which often ask students to detail the moments or activities that have been most meaningful to them.

Count the cost
The cost of higher education is rising, and in recent years the burden of financing a college education has shifted from state aid to personal resources.  If the university or the college of your child’s choice is financially unobtainable, start your child at a less-expensive community college, and encourage them to get an associate degree and transfer to a state university to obtain their baccalaureate degree.  

Ultimately, timing and planning are essential to your child’s success in being admitted into college. Remember parents, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail,” so start guiding your children in the right direction now.

Elizabeth Davenport is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Human Services at Florida A&M University.

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