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African-American mother and young teenage daughter taking a selfie and family is planning for her college.
College Planning

Planning for college in high school

Planning for college while your child is in high school can provide them with an advantage when applying for their first-choice university. Instilling a love of learning in your young child gives them a head start in life. There are also a few things you can do as they get older to help them start planning for college and a career.
Planning your child's college education while they're still in high school encompasses many things. But before you get knee-deep in financial aid, SATs, and applications, it's equally important to help them explore career paths during these pre-college years.

Laying the groundwork for a college major

Colleges today look at a student's accomplishments from all four years of high school, which is why you don't want to wait until your child's senior year to begin planning for college. For example, colleges today want to see well-rounded applicants who engage in a variety of extracurricular activities. As a parent, you can work with your child his or her freshman year of high school by discussing activities that you feel they have a natural interest or ability in. This could include sports, student government, the arts, etc. If they're having difficulty selecting an activity, speak to a school counselor who may be able to suggest something based on your child's skills, goals, and career path.

Elect to take electives

Once your child reaches their junior or senior year, they may also want to consider taking electives at the local community college. These types of courses can be helpful in gauging your child's interest and aptitude in certain fields of study. Internships are also a great way to explore a career.

Job shadowing to prepare for college

Another good way to learn more about potential career paths, is to have your child job shadow you or other family members, giving them a real-world perspective about jobs and the different types of workplaces. It can also help them narrow college choices down to selections that specialize in certain areas, and even help them identify which electives to take in high school. Why is it so important to have exposure to different career options early on? Because, having a clear end goal in mind can help motivate students to work hard toward a goal, and to stay focused and on track.

In fact, according to ACT, a curriculum and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students' academic readiness for college, few high school graduates are taking the time to select a major that best suits them. Yet students who select majors that match their interests are more likely to stick with it and finish their degrees.

If you need additional tips on budgeting for college  or other tips for your college-bound family member, visit the Protective Learning Center.



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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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