Research and experience show that parents can help their students prepare for (and succeed in) college, in several ways:

  • Establish the expectation of success – Students who plan to enroll in college and expect to succeed, are far more likely to do so than those who don’t. This begins at home with parents who nurture high expectations.
  • Teach time management skills – Average students who manage their time well are usually more successful than strong students who lack these skills. Parents may be the best teachers of time management.
  • Encourage math – The probability of earning a college degree goes up 40% when students take Algebra II and Trigonometry in high school—assuming they do well. It’s even higher with pre-calculus and calculus; math is a great success strategy.

  • Make college visits early – Campus visits are the single most important factor in the college decision. Start early, certainly no later than the sophomore year in high school.   Parents and students who make (and process) these visits together often avoid many problems.
  • Enroll students in SAT prep courses – Review courses and practice tests can improve test scores by 10-20%. SAT scores are a major consideration in merit aid and acceptance into selective institutions. Modestly priced, online SAT-prep programs are money in the bank.
  • Focus on net price, not sticker price – Focus on the net price (cost after scholarships, grants and work study) rather than the sticker price. Nearly all students receive some financial aid; be wary of aid packages based primarily on loans.

The research is clear; college is simply the best investment people can make in themselves. The process of making the best decision begins early—usually at home.

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