Planning Ahead - 5 Suggestions for Parents of Future College Students
We are a local WNY non-profit that works with families to help them plan for college. There are several aspects to our organization, including our annual scholarships and All-Pro Tutoring, but today we wanted to provide a resource for parents of future college students. Whether this is your first kid you’re sending to college or your last, the game has changed over the years and it’s important to follow these reminders when planning for college. Some parents may have not even attended college back in their day, so this process could be a first for all parties involved.
Here are 5 things for parents to consider when thinking about their kid’s college future.
Some kids are more independent than others. Some can’t seem to be independent at all. Regardless of what type of kid you have, it’s important to remember they are KIDS, and they will need some guidance. Helping them by simply communicating with them about what they need, helping to remind them of deadlines, and remaining on the same page is vital. You never want your kid to feel like they had no support in the college planning process. Talk about the hard questions. Have real conversations. Be transparent and honest, even if they don’t like what you have to say. It will help them in the long run.
Part of an open dialog is providing any help you can. Define what it is that YOU can do to HELP them. It may not be much, or it may be a lot, but pride never got anyone anywhere. The open reality of the cost of college is something that both parents and students need to acknowledge, and helping your student know how much or how little you will be able to help both financially, and logistically will help get you ALL where you need to go.
Once again, whether you have $1 saved for college or $100,000, the cost is going to be a topic of conversation that needs to be understood by parents and children. The earlier the College Money Talk occurs the better, and the more aware the family is of HOW college will be paid for, the better. Financial aid opportunities and the cost of a particular school’s tuition SHOULD impact the student’s choice of college.
Ask for Help.
Not many people have a Santa-sack full of cash waiting to pay for their kids’ college fund. Some may have a 529 plan or some more awareness of the process from past kids they’ve already pushed through. Talk to your colleagues, talk to your guidance counselors, and talk to as many folks as you can! The more information you have the better, and sometimes learning what NOT to do is more valuable in understanding the college planning process. There are people out there (Like Us, Hey!) who are available to answer your questions and provide EXPERT advice. Don’t be too proud to reach out for a hand.
Stay in Touch
Whoever helps you, whether it be a guidance counselor, teacher, coach, or college planner, make sure you keep connected with them throughout and after the college planning process. Beware of who you’re working with, as some people will try to help their own brand by pushing your student to apply and/or be accepted into prestigious schools just so they can look like they did a good job. You should be able to tell who’s here to help YOU, and who’s just here to help themselves. Remember, if you need to talk to someone about what college is best for you, ask a few different people what their opinion or expertise is, so you have several perspectives to use to make decisions.
These are only 5 of many things that parents of future college students should do. If you have a child who will be attending college in the next 5, 10, or 15 years, the time is now to get a plan together. The earlier you have the College Money Talk, the more realistic your college experience becomes, and the more aware you will be of how much will be owed after graduation. Don’t wait! If you have any questions about paying for college, choosing a college, or any college-related manner, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or via our contact form to talk to a college planning specialist today!