College Preparation Guide available to your students and their parents

The National Council for Open Education has published an online College Preparation Guide that can be used free by your students and their parents.

Chapters include:

College Prep for Students

Includes a checklist of things students should be doing during their senior year. Shown by Summer, Fall, and then month (September – May) in an easy to read format

Financial Aid

Includes a list of things NOT to do if you don’t want to decrease your chances of receiving financial aid. These include:

  • Sending in your application late
  • Waiting too long to take the SAT or ACT (so that your scores are not submitted in time)
  • Not preparing for a college interview
  • Going into a “senior slump” where your grades start to decline
  • Writing an uninteresting essay
  • Signing up for “easy” classes to boost your GPA (the financial aid offices will see your transcripts)
  • Not participating in extracurricular activities or volunteer activities
  • Turning in lackluster recommendation letters (you need to build relationships with those individuals you ask to write your recommendation letters, otherwise, they won’t know you that well and won’t know what to write to make you stand out)

College Prep for Parents

The college search process can be tough on some parents who are stressing about their child leaving home in the next year.  The site includes some great tips that can help parents get ready for this most important year ahead. Here are a few:

You can help your child along the way in the college application process by asking questions, keeping track of deadlines, and gathering necessary information needed for financial assistance (e.g., pay stubs, tax information, etc.). Have a listening ear and be a guiding resource in navigating the process. Just as you might have questions and anxiety about the whole process, your child may have the same questions and anxiety as well. Keep communication lines open and be patient. This is a big deal! Below is a checklist for parents:

  • When your child is considering which schools to pick, help your child understand the pros and cons of different schools based on their interest areas. Does your child know what he or she wants to do when they get out of college? Have any ideas what types of careers they might be interested in? Have they taken a career interest assessment to determine what types of careers fit well with what they like to do? Help your child understand the importance of a major and how it will help them toward their career choice. Does your child want to be an engineer? Then it might be better to focus on more technical schools that have strong engineering programs than smaller liberal arts colleges. Is your child interested in a career as a musician? Check out which schools have top music programs!
  • Arrange college visits. Once your child has narrowed down their school choices – contact the school to find out when you both can visit to see the campus, listen to administrators and students talk about their experiences, and chat with academic counselors to understand what the next steps are.
  • Keep track of SAT and ACT schedules and remind your child of these deadlines, so the exams can be taken early enough for the scores to transfer to the colleges.
  • Help your child through the application process. Act as a sounding board for questions, review application materials, and keep an eye out on deadlines and costs associated with the application process.
  • Attend a financial aid event with your child. Financial aid can be tricky to understand – it’s best if you both can attend these types of events. This also includes helping your child navigate the scholarship process. There will likely be many questions about eligibility, tax information, and other complicated financial information that your child will need help with answering.
  • When the acceptance letters start arriving, sit down and help your child choose the best school for him/her.
  • Be proud! Your child is going to college – this is a big step for both of you. Celebrate!

College Prep for Teachers (and Counselors)

Provides a checklist of ways Teachers (and Counselors) can help students prepare for college. These include:

Help to plan challenging course schedules and course materials – follow your school’s curriculum, but keep your lesson plans challenging and interesting to motivate your students’ learning process!

  • Keep records of classes and grades and meet with students who seem to be struggling in particular areas. Don’t let them struggle – encourage them to seek out help.
  • Track graduation requirements and keep your students informed of deadlines and schedules
  • Suggest which college admission tests are necessary and educate your students about what they are used for and why they are important
  • Connect your students with college and career counselors that can help them in figuring out what type of majors they might be interested in and which schools are best for particular career interests
  • Teach students about “safety” colleges, “maybe” colleges, and “reach” colleges – encourage applications to “reach” colleges, but educate students on the importance of applying for schools that are a good fit for their academic level and experience to ensure acceptance
  • Write letters of recommendation for students, as requested. Be thoughtful in your letters – spend some time on them and weigh the importance of these letters in the future of your students!
  • Celebrate your students’ successes and know that you played a key role in guiding them in their achievements!

It Takes a Village!

Summarizes that it takes a team of Counselors, Teachers, Parents and the Students to have a successful College Search. Using this guide can provide some great tips that can help your students succeed. Here is a link: