How to Get into College, The Best Tips for Parents of High Schoolers

Getting into college can be overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the admissions process. As a parent of a high schooler, you likely have many questions about how to get your teen ready for college. This article will give you great insights about the application process, financial aid, and more. Whether your teen is in the beginning stages of thinking about college or has already submitted their application, these tips will help them succeed at whichever school they choose to attend.

Before You Begin Your College Search

Before you start thinking about how to get into college, you should ensure your child is prepared, ready for the long commitment, and has the financial support.

To start with, your child should be in the process of taking the required standardized tests (SAT or ACT), building up a solid academic record by taking Honors, AP, or IB classes, and participating in activities that show their personality and soft skills outside of the classroom. Without these completed items, your child will have a more challenging time getting into the college of their dreams.

You also want to make sure your teen is financially prepared for college, including saving for tuition and other expenses and assessing your current financial situation to see if you can help foot the bill. Suppose you are not financially prepared for college. In that case, you should consider paying extra attention to financial aid resources so your child has more chances to attend college.

Research Schools and Learn the Admissions Process

Before you start applying to colleges, research different schools to find the best fit for your child; not because it is the best school on the list means your child will thrive and be happy. Start by determining your child’s interests and goals, and then decide what schools they would be a good fit for (if you are unsure how to start the process, book a FREE consultation with one of our certified college admissions consultants).

Finding the best school for your child may include researching different majors, programs, and specialties at each school to find the one that best aligns with your child’s interests and goals.

Once you have a list of potential schools, you must do more than just read their websites. Look into their information, the school’s profile statistics, acceptance rate, and graduation rates.

You may also want to look at the cost of attendance, financial aid information, and how many students received financial aid to understanding the school’s culture, curriculum, and what it’s like to be a student at that specific school.

Things to Keep in Mind

Now that you’ve narrowed down the schools that are a good fit for your child, keep in mind some things before applying to college:

  • Deadlines – Deadlines are crucial. The earlier you apply, the more time your child will have to edit their application and make sure everything is perfect.
  • Standardized Tests – Most colleges require standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. These tests measure your child’s skills and help admissions officers determine whether or not they are ready for the rigorous curriculum at that particular school.
  • Process – Learn about the different types of admissions, like early admissions, fly-in programs, etc.
  • The Essay – Some will require that you write about a specific topic or answer a question. Still, the admission essay (hyperlink to 7 tips) directly impacts your chances of getting into the colleges you’re applying to.
  • The Application – Make sure you read the application thoroughly and thoroughly. If you miss something, you risk your application being thrown out altogether.
  • Letters of Recommendation – Letters of recommendation can make or break your application. Make sure you choose your recommenders wisely and give them plenty of time to complete the letter.
  • Extra-Curricular Activities – Colleges want to see more than your grades and scores, and they want to know that your child is well-rounded and has passions outside the classroom. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to show this.

Estimate Your Child's Financial Aid Package

Don’t wait until you know which school your child will be attending! Start researching how much it will cost by looking at your college lists’ website to find out their estimated cost of attendance. Then, you can use a financial aid calculator to get a rough idea of your child’s financial aid package. Simply plug in your family’s information (income, assets, etc.), and the calculator will help you determine what your child’s financial aid package might look like.

 Keep in mind that these calculations are not official offers of financial aid. Your child will have to apply for financial aid, and the school will determine the assistance package based on their finances.

Decide Where to Enroll

Now that you know all about the application process and have a better idea of your child’s financial aid package, it’s time to decide where to enroll. There are a few factors to take into account as you make this decision:

  • Fit – Make sure the school is a good fit for your child in terms of location, size, curriculum, etc.
  • Cost – You want to ensure the school meets your child’s financial aid requirements.
  • Potential – Take a look at the school’s statistics and history. You want to ensure your child is going to a school that will prepare them for the future and gives them the best chance of success.

These factors are important, but they aren’t everything. Make sure you do your research and do not solely rely on statistics. The best way to find the right school for your child is to visit campuses and meet with admissions officers. Take as many campus visits as you can and spend time getting to know each school. You will know when you find the right school for your child.


Getting into college is a process, and it’s important to start preparing early. Making sure your child is taking the right classes, doing extra-curricular activities that show their interests and skills, and taking the required standardized tests is an excellent way to start. Still, it’s also important to research different schools and visit campuses so you can find the best fit for your child. Our certified college admissions consultants can help you find the right school and get insider tips on how to build your profile and stand out in the college admissions process.

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