No matter how old or young your children are, there are ways you can prepare NOW to help them win college scholarships when they are ready to apply for and attend college. The cost of college tuition is skyrocketing and knowledge is power, so here are some helpful ways to prepare students to win college scholarships.
1. Encourage good grades
From the time they enter preschool, parents can instill in their children the importance of always doing their very best on all their schoolwork. As students get older and begin to receive letter grades, they should be encouraged to strive for A’s and B’s. Working towards being included on academic honor rolls should always be a goal and an expectation.
Helping others is not only good for students and the people they help; it is good for scholarship applications. Most organizations that offer college scholarships want to know how many community service hours a student has worked and how it has impacted their lives. Parents can start early with their children and volunteer as a family, establishing meaningful relationships with people who may one day write a wonderful letter of recommendation for their student.
3. Speak about WHEN, not IF
Talking about “when” students will go to college, instead of “if” they will go, sends a message that college is an important part of a student’s education. Parents can also bring into casual conversations valuable information and lessons they learned from their own college days.
4. College visits on vacations
Family vacations are a great way to do some mini college visits. While sightseeing, take a few extra minutes to locate any colleges in the area and drive by them to check them out. These casual visits may spark college conversations and interest, without pressuring students. Make notes about each school and save them for future reference.
5. Write about experiences
If your student has done something exciting, or for which they are very proud, encourage him or her to take a few minutes and write down their thoughts and feelings, as well as any details about the experience as soon as possible afterwards. These big events could become fantastic scholarship or college essay material, but memories may become lost or fuzzy if they are not captured on paper quickly.
6. Save awards/honors certificates
All those certificates need a special home, so decide early on where they are going to be stored. When your child is approaching college and begins applying for scholarships, you will know exactly where they are without tearing the house apart in frustration. Scholarship applications typically have special areas in which students are asked about any awards they have received. Start saving the proof now, no matter how old you child.
7. NHS/NJHS membership
The National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society not only have scholarships available for their members, they also have community service hour requirements that will help your student pick volunteer opportunities that will count on scholarship applications. Encouraging and expecting good grades will increase your child’s chances of being invited into these organizations.
8. Do your taxes early
Financial aid is given out at most colleges and by the federal government in a “first come, first served” basis. Filling out and submitting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) should be done as soon as possible after Jan. 1st each year, starting in a student’s senior year of high school. Getting used to doing taxes early will be one less adjustment parents will have to make as their child approaches college.
9. Extra credit
When a teacher offers extra credit, encourage your child to do the extra work. Going the “extra mile” is a wonderful concept to teach students and instills in them the importance of doing their very best and going above and beyond what is expected of them academically.
10. Asking for help is smart
Teaching children that it is ok to ask for help allows them to see that it is perfectly acceptable to reach out to others if they feel confused or are struggling in school. Encourage asking questions in class and good communication with teachers, so students don’t get so far behind that they are constantly fighting to keep up.
11. AP classes
Advanced Placement classes challenge young minds and look great on college and scholarship applications. Encourage AP class selections, especially in junior and senior year. Students can enter college with college credit (Read: saving mom and dad $ $ ) if they successfully pass advanced placement tests while in high school.
12. Attend parent/teacher conferences
Even if your child is doing wonderful in school, taking the time to meet their teachers and chat about their performance is a great way to connect and discuss your plan to help your student apply for and win college scholarships. The teacher that gushes about how much they like and appreciate your student will probably be a good choice as a letter of recommendation writer. Mentioning college scholarships at parent/teacher conferences also opens up the possibility of a teacher nominating your student for those scholarships that require such nominations.
Little preschoolers become college-bound students before you know it! Get ahead of the game by planning early to help them win college scholarships.
What have you already done in preparation for college and scholarships for your child?
Featured image courtesy of Phil Roeder licensed via Creative Commons.