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The College Journey as a Parent of an underclass student

The college preparation process can begin as early as 8th grade. Earning high school credits and developing good study habits prepares students for later success. As high school approaches, explore dual credit programs allowing students to graduate with an associate degree and a high school diploma. Taking AP courses allows one to gain waivable college credit based on AP exam scores.

Sending your child off to college is an exciting yet challenging milestone. Have conversations to understand if they hope to stay closer to home or venture farther away for college. If they want to explore out-of-state schools, consider options to reduce or waive non-resident tuition fees.


Beginning college tours during freshmen or sophomore years enables students to visualize different campus environments, locations, and activities. Visiting early and often exposes them to options and helps them identify the best college fit.

The College Board provides valuable tips to help parents play a productive role in their child’s college search and applications. Discuss their skills, interests, values, and budget to align expectations. While the college's decision is ultimately the students, parents can provide meaningful perspective.


Stay informed on application timelines, financial aid differences, and the types of postsecondary institutions. Attend college fairs and information sessions together. Have students lead direct communications with colleges but lend assistance in proofreading essays and filling out complex financial aid forms.


The College Board also offers valuable search tools to compare colleges side-by-side. Research schools together to learn more about academic programs, campus culture, extracurriculars, and other offerings that factor into finding the best fit.


The college journey sparks a whirlwind of emotions. Stay engaged in this memorable chapter of their life, but resist being overbearing. Parents and students can successfully navigate the road ahead with the right mix of support, guidance, and independence.


Visit College Board for more information.

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