College planning broken down by grade

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It is time to spring into action, regardless of the weather! Are you ready to gain new financial knowledge that will come in handy when you send your child off on his/her upcoming college journey? Some people are intimidated by the whole process of preparing a child to go to college. Don’t be discouraged, we here, at the College Planning Network are available and ready to address and guide you through the process of finding the answers to your concerns. We are experts in the field of college planning and can make the process flow smoothly for you. Because each family is different and you may have several children in different stages in school, we’ve divided the newsletter into sections organized by grade to help you go directly to the year your student is in.

FRESHMAN YEAR
If your student is in their freshman year, you might think it’s too soon to start planning ahead for college. Not so. It’s never too early to start. During this first year of high school, stress the importance of working diligently on academics. This will always pay off throughout his/her educational pursuits. Also, one thing to remember is that this is the year that grades will begin to be recorded on transcripts. Your student can start to stretch his or herself by taking classes that are challenging but still within his/her abilities. This is the best time to lay the foundation for a solid academic future.

Take interest and skills assessments
Your student is a freshman and may not yet know what s/he wants to do as a career. S/he may still not be sure once college starts. One way to find out where your student’s abilities are strongest is to take interest and skills assessments that help to match careers with the abilities that are best presented through the assessments. The Career Cruising Program is a great tool that is never too early to begin using. If you need assistance with how to use the program, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call.

Study! Study!! Study!!!
It never hurts to have those strong study skills honed early. Your student’s academics have an impact on the schools that s/he will want to attend. Doing well in school is important throughout every stage of academic development.

Have parent/student conferences to discuss college plans
College planning does not have to be the sole responsibility of the parent. In fact, having your student involved in all the stages of planning may increase the chances of success when s/he is finally reached college. Brainstorm and discuss ways to save and pay for college together as a family. Make sure you talk to your College Funding Advisor to review different savings strategies and the impact they may have on financial aid.

Expand Your Support Network
The College Planning Network is here to help and support ALL your needs in terms of financial aid and college admission planning. However, you can also find friends, teachers and school counselors who have been through the process themselves and can offer advice and first-hand knowledge of the experience. (Just remember that everyone’s individual situation is quite different.)

It’s never too early to get your financial plan together
Protect the money you’ve saved. If you have money saved outside of your company retirement plans, talk to your College Funding Advisor about possibly repositioning those assets into accounts that are not exposed to the aid formulas.

SOPHOMORE YEAR
If its sophomore year for your student, continue on the solid path started in freshman year. Or, if your student encountered setbacks during freshman year or if s/he had a difficult time adjusting in high school, reassure your student that this is a new year. Your student can always move forward regardless of any setbacks. Here are some additional things to consider for your high school sophomore.

Have your student participate in extracurricular activities and resume brainstorming
Getting involved in sports, academic clubs or the arts is a great way for your student to have a well-rounded academic background. Not only is it fun to meet others, it may also develop an interest that is there already. Have them also write down all involvement for a later resume to colleges.

Have your student explore internships and apprenticeships
Internships and apprenticeships are very valuable. It gives your student a first-hand look at possible career options and hands on job experience. It also provides an opportunity for a real connection with a mentor that could later help in the recommendation process with colleges.

Have your student enroll in a summer enrichment program
These programs are developed to give students exposure to a variety of fields. Developed by specialists, children can enroll in several different courses during their session to provide an overview of career and interest areas.

Go over the PLAN results
If your student took the PLAN put out by ACT, in their sophomore year, it is a good idea to go over the results and identify the areas that are in need of improvement. Be sure to incorporate extra help in those areas and plan your student’s next academic year accordingly. This can ultimately help them improve their score on the ACT. Make sure your student uses the College Planning Network SAT/ACT Prep Courses as they’ve proven over and over to get great results!

Protect your money!
You’ve worked hard for your money. Protect that money by working with your College Funding Advisor. They can help you implement strategies so that your savings does not increase your Expected Family Contribution.

JUNIOR YEAR
It’s junior year for your student. What a terrific time this is! S/he has already completed 2 years of high school and if there have been weak areas that need to be strengthened; this is the time to have it corrected. You’ll notice the momentum picking up here. Things will get busier so stay on top of all of the activities. Here are some other items to add to your list, as well.

Consider having your student earn college credit
One way to make things easier for your student while in college is to complete some classes while still in high school. These courses can be taken through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Post-Secondary Enrollment Options and College in the Schools programs.

Have your student narrow down possible career options
If your student has shown interest in several areas, have him/her narrow down the fields and investigate the type of education that is needed. Talking to people in the fields your student is interested in is another way to find out how they got to where they are. A good ongoing resource tool is the Career Cruising Program. Your student should definitely review these results and brainstorm ideas with their CPN Student Mentoring session.

Start Researching the Schools Websites
If your student has already narrowed down his/her school list, this is a good time to really dig in and equest admissions forms. You can’t start too early on this paperwork and most people put it off until the very end. Don’t be one of them!

Have your student take the ACT and/or SAT
It’s still not too late to register for the ACT and/or SAT. They are still offering exams until June. Register now, if you want your student to take these exams. And definitely use the College Planning Network SAT/ACT Prep Courses to help increase their scores! It’s a great resource that is available any time right on your family’s College Planning Network webpage.

Get your financial game plan in place!
Guard the money you’ve worked so hard to put away. You want to protect what you’ve saved for your student. Your College Funding Advisor can help you implement strategies so that your savings does not increase your Expected Family Contribution. They can also help you develop a plan on how you are going to pay your out-of-pocket college costs in the most efficient way.

SENIOR YEAR
It’s senior year and your student is almost done! S/he has been through the rigors of 3 years of high school and is now near completing the final year. What an accomplishment! This year has probably been very busy thus far. Here are a few things to think of as your student finishes this last year.

Create a resume
Now is the time to fine-tune your resume. This will come in handy now for colleges and later for a job search. Go over work history, activities; in and out of school, leadership, service and any other awards or recognitions they have received. Jot them down in a resume format that looks crisp and clean. We can help you with how to present yourself through your resume!

Have your student look for summer employment
Having your student find work in the summer time is one of many ways for him/her to learn to value of work and earning their own money. These skills will be useful in many areas of his/her life and can be valuable in college, as well. Your student can use the money earned to save for his/her college expenses, too.

Stay focused!
Most students are so ready to just be done with high school at this time. Make sure you check in with your student to ensure they are still doing well in his/her classes.

Keep your money safe from Financial Aid Formulas
Your College Funding Advisor is there to help protect the money you’ve worked so hard to put away for this important occasion. Make sure you talk to them about any potential strategies you can take advantage of.

College planning for your student can be a daunting task. Navigating the many responsibilities required in this process may make you feel like you need your own personal assistant. That’s why we are here. We can be the guide to assist you in creating, developing and implementing your own unique college plan.

Best wishes, and until next month, have a joyous start to spring!


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