Helping your kids get ready for college

Education news across the country has recently reported that U.S. students are not properly prepared for college. To remedy this, many states have chosen to alter their standardized testing methods, turning to the Common Core because it requires students to learn subject matter in greater depth. Along with this testing, there are many ways parents can help their kids get ready to go to college. Here are a few:

Encourage your kids to take advanced classes
Teachers gear high school classes toward readying students for postsecondary education. For kids who are ready to move on to more difficult coursework, advanced classes can be helpful. Many schools offer Advanced Placement classes to students who earn a certain GPA or test into the courses. Advanced Placement courses offer students the chance to earn college credit while in high school. These classes are a great opportunity to try working at a college level and to reduce the amount of classes your kids need to take when they do move on to postsecondary education. AP courses will also save you money as your kids can take them for free or reduced prices while in high school, so they are a win-win.

Create good attendance habits
When your children live at home, you can ensure they go to school every day. As the time comes for them to move into dorms, however, your kids will have to decide for themselves if they plan to go to class. Parents can help by instilling the value of daily attendance in their children. It's OK to skip class in the event of an illness or emergency, but it is equally important to make up missed work.

Plan for financing
One of the most stressful parts for many families with kids going off to college is learning about financial options. While some people can pay for college out of pocket, that number is small. Many kids need to go through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process to get loans to pay for courses, school materials and living expenses. It's good to know that this is not your kids' only option.

Most colleges offer grants and scholarships to eligible students. Kids who have good grades, are a minority, have special needs or who have excelled at a particular activity may have access to extra financing opportunities. Help your kids talk to the financial aid departments at the schools where they apply. This will help you learn what options are available, allowing your kids to make the best decision about where to go to postsecondary school. Having a full understanding of loans and finances will ease your mind and reduce your children's stress levels.

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