An action plan for parents of high school seniors

By Erin Eagan

Time flies when you’re a senior in high school. We know because we’ve all been there. There are decisions to be made, deadlines to be met, and it can feel very overwhelming to a teenager.

As a parent, you can help alleviate some of this stress by getting the “life after high school” process started sooner rather than later. Use the suggestions below as a guide to help your senior successfully navigate this difficult time.

1. Meet with a school counselor.

A counselor can offer helpful advice about the different types of post-secondary education available and can walk them through the process every step of the way. Beyond that, they’ll make sure your child is fulfilling all of their requirements for high school graduation.

2. Consider all available options.

It’s quite common for seniors to be undecided about what career path they want to take. Are there any special interests or talents they’d like to pursue? If a four-year university isn’t the right choice for them, there are numerous careers, including health care, technology and manufacturing, that do not require a four-year degree. Instead, maybe a technical college or apprenticeship would be a better option. Encourage them to take this career interest questionnaire as a starting point.

3. Search for scholarships.

There are scholarships available everywhere — through the high school, in the community, as well as nationally. It’s just a matter of doing a thorough search. Every little bit helps when it comes to paying for college.

4. Keep a calendar.

It’s hard enough for seniors to keep track of daily homework and any extracurricular activities they may be involved in. A calendar with application and scholarship deadlines and other important dates will help them stay on track.

5. Fill out the FAFSA form.

Most two-year and four-year colleges require students to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Many colleges also use this form when distributing grants. Visit the FAFSA website to find out what is needed to fill out the form.

In the meantime, encourage your child to stay focused on their grades and, most importantly, remind them to enjoy this time of their life because it’ll be over before they know it!