Parents: How to Prepare High School Student for CollegeParents: How to Prepare High School Student for College

Parents: How to Prepare your Student for College

Check out the college readiness checklist by grade for more information.

You can also visit the high school graduation requirements by state page to ensure your student is on the right track to graduate.

Inquire if you child knows how to apply to college or if they need help or have any questions. Whether you have attended college before or not, you may not know how to help your child with college preparation. Here are a few tips by topic.

Some questions you may want to ask your child:

  • Does they want to go to college?
  • Do they know where they want to go to college?
  • Do they know what they want to go to college for?
  • Have they spoken to their guidance counselor?

Help your Student Select and Research a College

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded a useful website to help with college research. The Chronical of Higher Education: College Completion website (link opens in a new browser window) provides an intuitive way to research schools.

One particularly useful feature is the Overview U.S. Map. Just click the Overview button in the header of the website.

search colleges by state or college

There are many factors involved when choosing a school. The school's cost, whether the school is accredited, and if the school is just a fit in general for your student. However, another factor that is important to look at is graduation rate. When you click on the Overview button, you can easily view graduation rates by state and school.

If your student is looking at attending a school within the state in which you reside, clicking on a state on the map will give you a lot of demographic information related to graduation rates. If you keep scrolling down, you will see graduation rates however, by college/university along with how much (on average) it cost to graduate and average student aid.

Once your student decides where they want to go to college, they will need to take note of the application deadlines. Some college applications require more work than others as well. Local community college applications are generally fast and simple, yet a university application will take more time.

College Accreditation

You also want to make sure the college a student wants to attend is accredited. Your student may graduate with a B.S. degree, but if the college or university is not accredited, their credits will not transfer when they go to attain a Master's degree or additional educational program.

Visit (link opens in a new window) and type in the name of the college you are researching.

Next, click on the Building icon.

College Source College Information

Review the college or university's Regional Accreditation Status, Institutional Accreditation, and Specialized Accreditations. If your student is considering a medical profession, the specialized accreditations would contain the school's accreditation status in that field.

College Accreditation Information

Help your Student with Financial Aid

If your student is a senior, you will want to submit your taxes as soon as possible and have your student submit their FAFSA (the form is on Until your student is 23 (or until they are married, in the military, or have a child) they will need your tax information to complete the FAFSA.

When your student fills out the FAFSA, they will need to list the colleges they want to attend. This is why having a discussion about colleges and where they are applying to college is important. Your student will need to add those schools to the FAFSA application — even if they have yet to be accepted.

Grants, Scholarships, Tax Credits, and other Aid

Your student can actually start applying for college scholarships the summer of their Junior year. There are other ways to fund college as well, and those are outlied in the Go to College for Free article.

Meanwhile, you may want to inquire with your employer as to whether they offer scholarships to employee's students. Many large companies do. In addition, if you belong to an organization (or affiliated with a religion) that affiliation may have college scholarship opportunities as well.

Additional Resources

If you'd like to purchase a resource for your child, here are some resources available on (links open in a new tab):