College Strategies for the High School Freshman

Your student has now reached the halfway mark through his/her first year of high school!  At this point, much of the nuts-and-bolts of specific college planning and financial strategies are still processing. However, you are currently in the ideal time to assess where things stand with your freshman student and his/her overall high school experience.  So here are some college strategies for the high school freshman

College Strategies for the High School Freshman: Pay Attention to the Fall Semester

The first report card of high school is a pretty big deal, and it is the initial indicator of how your student is performing at this new level.  We urge you to take the time to determine what has gone right so far, and help it to continue, as well as finding the best way to correct anything that may have gone awry or presented a challenge.  At this point it is still early, and there can certainly be an adjustment stage. Encourage your student in every way possible toward achieving academic excellence.

College Strategies for the High School Freshman: Consider the Big Picture

Yes, schoolwork is a huge part of the high school equation when it comes to college preparation.  However, do not ignore an assessment of how your student is adjusting to high school emotionally and socially, as well.  Activities are a fantastic preparation for college and for life in general, whether they are science clubs, leadership, athletics, or other interests.  There needs to be balance, certainly, but this is one area that also needs parental support.  Parents can make a huge difference in a student in discovering his/her areas of interest, and so can extracurricular activities.

If you have already saved money for college, then it’s never too early to get your financial plan together

College Strategies for the High School Freshman: Protect the money you’ve saved.

If you have money saved outside of your company’s retirement plan, talk to your College Funding Advisor about re-positioning those assets into accounts that are not exposed to the financial aid formulas.

  • This strategy was used with permission from our College Planning Network.  It is one excerpt from our monthly email that gives tips and strategies to help students and families prepare for the college years.

College Campus Trip Strategy – Places to see

The college campus trip is one of the most effective tools in  making your final college decision.  You have done your research and gathered all the information you can find online; now it’s time to see, hear, smell, taste and feel the campus for yourself.  Once you have scheduled the proper meetings for your visit, you need to consider what places you need to see.  So here is a College Campus Trip Strategy regarding the places you will want to see.

Visit the Student Life Facilities!

Here is where your sense of smell comes in…let it guide you to the cafeteria.  It is important to have a meal on campus during your college campus trip.  You can learn a lot about a campus by visiting the cafeteria.  You see how the students interact with each other.  And you can hear the sounds of college campus life.  Not to mention the most important part of visiting the college cafeteria, you can taste the food.  Remember, if you are living on campus, you will be eating here 3 times a day.

Another student life area of interest is the student housing.  You need to visit the dorms and see them first hand.  It’s one thing to see them online or in a flier, but you want to see them when they are full of the campus life.  For what are you looking?  Look at the size, is it crowded or comfy?  Look at convenience, where is the restroom located?  Do you like the layout of a particular dorm style over another?  Make note of what you observe.

Make sure you visit the student center.  All student centers are different, but what you are looking for is a place to relax with friends.  Some student centers include office for people who serve the student body, which could include: health offices, academic services, student life service, etc.

Visit the Academic Life Areas!

Academic life is an important part of your college life.  Here are a few places you will want to visit.  First, make sure you visit a classroom.  If you are able to sit in on a class you will be able to see and experience the classroom at it’s best.

Second, make sure you visit the Library.  US News identified “4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice”.  No matter how much time you spend in the Library, it is a great stop for you to make during your college campus trip.

Third, make sure you visit the bookstore.  While many books are bought online, there will still be the occasional book that can only be found quickly by a visit to the bookstore.  Anyway, you are going to need a new t-shirt with your college’s mascot as a way to say, “I was there!

Visit the Specialized Facilities!

We are using this term as broadly as possible.  For instance, if you are an athlete, the specialized facilities may be the sports arena/field, the locker rooms and workout facility.  If you are an artist, you will want to check out the art rooms.  If you are a science major you will will want to check out the labs.  A great amount of your college life will be spent in these “specialized areas”.  Make sure you see these areas and ask yourself some simple questions:

  • How do these areas compare with the ones you are already familiar with using?
  • Do you believe these areas will meet the specific needs you will have during your college years?

Your college campus trip is an invaluable tool in choosing which college to attend.  It is worth the investment of time and money to visit each college you are seriously considering.  With the right strategy, you will be able to find the college of your dreams.