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Your child is growing up in a world where peer groups have powerful influence and technology offers powerful distractions. You, your parent group and your school have to work hard to send a message that planning for college is an effort that pays off. Here are some ideas from The College Ed Create a College-Going Culture Guide by the College Board:
Visit College Ed for more information on the program or resources.
By GreatSchools Staff
Middle school is the time parents tend to be less involved, but it's the very time your child needs encouragement and guidance. Meet your child's teachers, if you haven't already done so, and make it clear that you want to be kept up to date about any changes in your child's work or behavior. Go over your child's standardized test results with the counselor to identify strengths and weaknesses. Talk to the counselor about your child's interests to see if there are electives and extracurricular activities that will help him develop his talents. If your child needs extra help or more challenging assignments in a subject, talk to the counselor about how to arrange it.
"Be vocal about what your school needs," Fabiszak advises. "You should feel comfortable calling up the school to say 'I think my son needs extra help because he's failing math,' or 'Do you have more rigorous coursework for my daughter who's doing well in English?'"
The research is clear: Kids who take algebra by the eighth grade and geometry by ninth grade are much more likely to go to college than those who don't. These math classes are required to take more advanced math classes in high school and to take science classes like chemistry and physics. In addition to taking math every year in middle school, your child should take:
Because college work and many jobs now require computer skills, your child should also try to take advantage of any computer science classes offered in middle and high school. He'll gain new skills and may discover a career path.
Bottom line: Your child will need to satisfy more than the basic high school graduation requirements to be prepared to succeed in college. And he won't be prepared for college prep classes in high school unless he starts now.
Experts emphasize that there are lots of ways to finance a college education, but you have to do your homework. Researching the way the system works, saving options such as 529 plans, and creative financing ideas will keep you from the last-minute panic that leads families to take out high-interest loans.
"You can find money for college," says Fabiszak. "It takes work and you need to start early."
There are also other cost-cutting measures you'll uncover: Your child can get college credits by taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school or in summer classes at your local community college. That can save you a year's tuition — but your child must be academically prepared to take advantage of these options.
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