For some parents, college planning and saving starts at birth, or in some cases even before a child is born. By a student's 9th grade year, many more parents will begin planning their child's college education. While some may find freshman still too young for serious college preparation, there are many reasons for parents to start this early.
Discuss Career Options and Interests
During a student's freshman year of high school, school counselors and parents should discuss various career options and help students choose courses that reinforce their interests and goals.
Counselors should also be able to let you and your student know what general course requirements most colleges have for admission. No career choices need to be set in stone in the 9th grade, so students should develop a good relationship with their school counselors and ask for guidance if they feel unsure or change their minds.
Fulfilling College Requirements
It is important that during the freshman year of high school students begin to take courses that fulfill college requirements. This can give students a more relaxed schedule when they are upperclassmen and also allow time for important extracurricular activities and volunteer work that will look great on college applications and make your child a more well-rounded individual.
Reinforce Good Habits
Parents should also reinforce good study habits and make sure that their students understand that -- for the first time -- his or her grade point average really matters. While freshman year grades are not as important as later years, they do matter. Freshman students should also consider constructing a running draft of their resume to keep track of important dates and achievements, both academic and personal.
Research College Costs and Scholarships
Freshman high school students can also spend time getting familiar with the college application process and researching college options and scholarships. Many families are under-prepared to fully pay for college tuition and fees -- the costs can be steep. By researching scholarships early and learning about financial aid eligibility, students and parents can more accurately ballpark how much college will cost out of pocket and be better prepared for the sticker shock.
Making Preliminary College Choices
By the end of freshman year, students may be ready to start visiting some college campuses and picking some favorite colleges and universities to investigate more in the coming years. Your student may also want to learn more about taking college courses online. Online college can save money, as your student can attend college from home, sparing you the expense of room & board, parking, textbooks and other costs.
Considering Online College
If online college is an idea that appeals to you and your student, you should research the best online colleges before narrowing down the choices. There are many to choose from, as attending college online has become more mainstream in the last few years. Most colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer at least some courses online, with many offering 100% online college degree programs.
The choices are vast and the decisions can be difficult, but there's no need to feel overwhelmed. Since you and your student have started gathering information and preparing for college during the freshman year, you have plenty of time to sort through all of the options and discuss the best college plan for your student.