Do you have a high school senior preparing to go to college? Are you overwhelmed by the opportunities, paperwork, and planning of it all?

In recognition of November being National Education Month, we put together five tips to help you and your child better prepare for their higher education and financial future.

  1. Do research: Set up college visits, talk to current students, and encourage your child to submit an early application. Help them stay organized by making a list of all the required paperwork needed for applications, such as letter(s) of recommendation, a copy of their transcript, etc.
  2. Be proactive: Write down important dates such as SAT or ACT test dates and scholarship application deadlines and place them where they will be seen daily. Help your child take charge of their future by ensuring necessary tasks are completed as soon as possible.
  3. Find scholarships: As much as $100 million in scholarship funds go unclaimed every year, according to the National Scholarship Providers Association. Start gathering options by asking questions and researching scholarships that apply for your child. If you don’t know where to begin, reach out to their teacher, guidance counselor, or mentor for help.
  4. Create a budget and open a savings account: It’s never too late to learn financial literacy basics. Work with your child to create a budget and help them open a savings account dedicated to funding their college tuition and other school related expenses.
  5. Talk about the impacts of posting on social networks: Did you know college admission offices can decline or resend an offer based on what you post on social media? Discuss the positive and negative impacts of an online presence with your child. Encourage them to tidy up their social media profiles before sending in their applications.

Congratulations on taking the first few steps in helping your child prepare for college! While you navigate this exciting and emotional process, remember to stay positive and open minded. College is about personal growth and discovery, and this milestone will help your child shape a bright and successful future.