Here are some suggestions for simplifying the complexity of the college admission and financial aid process. Work with your child to think through these steps, and offer ongoing assistance and feedback.
* Use your resources. Talk with school counselors and students who attend your school(s) of preference. Visit with alumni and college professors who work in your field of interest. Attend pre-college events and tours.
* Research sources of scholarships, whether based on financial need or merit. Learn their requirements and timetables. Scholarship sponsors include youth organizations, churches, community memorials, and service organizations. Government loans and the military are further options.
* Organize your child's accomplishments. Begin with three lists:
- My skills (what I can do/have done, what I do well or like to do).
- My knowledge (what I know, concepts I grasp and practice).
- My personal qualities (what your best friend might say about you to someone else).
* Identify references. While your child is still at the early high school stage, record the name and address of favorite teachers who could be future references.
* Help your child prepare a resume. College officials will look for experiences as a school leader, community volunteer, or as an employee.
* Start writing. Plan now to help your child plan to write that all-important admissions essay. If writing an essay seems overwhelming, check various Web sites for tips. Keep a journal or a folder of ideas as they come up. Encourage your child to participate in a variety of activities so you can highlight them in the essay.
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