Katherine Cohen

Above: Katherine Cohen

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College Planning & Preparation | Preparing for College | March 15, 2012

Preparing Your Child for College: 4 Things Parents Must Know

By Katherine Cohen
CEO and Founder of IvyWise and ApplyWise.com, and author of The Truth About Getting In and Rock Hard Apps.

1.) STUDENTS MUST MAKE AN IMPACT. Colleges are not looking for “jacks of all trades.” Applicants who are consistent in their commitment to a handful of activities or are specialists within a particular field have an advantage over serial club-joiners who show no leadership or dedication. Request a list of the extracurricular activities that are available to your child at their high school. If the school doesn’t offer a program that matches your teen’s interest, then help him or her research additional activities that may be available through your local community.

2.) RELATIONSHIPS WITH GUIDANCE COUNSELORS & TEACHERS COUNT. Colleges usually require letters of recommendation from a student’s guidance counselor and junior or senior year teachers in academic subjects. Encourage your child to make an effort to build relationships early on with these individuals.

3.) SUMMERS BEFORE COLLEGE SHOULD BE SPENT WISELY. It’s important for students to make the most out of their time both inside and outside of the classroom. Tanning on the beach all summer will not impress an admissions committee! Your teen should spend the summers pursuing his or her talents and interests. Your child can take college-level classes, participate in multi-week programs in an area of interest, join a community service organization, or get an internship or summer job. Check with your teen’s guidance counselor to see if the high school has any partnerships or recommendations for summer opportunities.

4.) THERE IS MORE THAN ONE STANDARDIZED TEST OPTION. Many colleges accept either the ACT or SAT. Your teen should meet with his or her high school guidance counselor to review the format and content of each exam and select the one that plays to his or her academic strengths. If your child isn’t a good test taker, he or she may want to consider the more than 800 four-year colleges that are test-optional found at www.FairTest.org.

Read More Tips for Parents of College-bound Students in

StudentAdvisor's Parents' Survival Guide.