College admissions advice for parents: how to discuss college with your teen

Learn about: College admissions advice for parents: how to discuss college with your teen from Robert K. Cooke, MEd,...
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College admissions advice for parents: how to discuss college with your teen

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I think it's a really good idea for parents to first talk about college with their teenager maybe as early as 9th grade, because the reality is that things that a teenager does in 9th grade can affect whether they end up going to college, whether it's grades or extracurriculars or even behavior. So sitting down and having a conversation with your kid at that point isn't a bad idea t all. Now it's not a good idea to force them to tell you where they want to go to college or what they want to major in. But it's not a bad idea to say, college is coming next. You might want to start thinking a little bit about what size of college you want to go to, or if there's a part of the country you'd be really excited to go live in for a while. And then also remember by the way that high school matters. The decisions you make along the way are going to be looked at by colleges. I think that the other really important things for families to talk about is if there are any circumstances that might affect what colleges the child might end up enrolling at. That can be legacy things. We've got 3 generations who all went to school X and we know that you would perhaps have a better chance of going there. It's something you should think about. Put that in the back of your mind. Even more importantly though is if there are restrictions on where a student might be able to attend. So if there are financial circumstances that might limit where a child might be allowed to go by their parents, it's not a bad idea to put that on a kid's radar at least a little bit. Just to say, you know, we are paying for this. We're happy to do so. Or we're unable to pay for this, unfortunately. So it's going to be dependent upon maybe financial aid or other sorts of low-cost options for college. I think the worst thing is to have a student get to their senior year, to apply to a school, to get in there, and then to be told, no you can't go there. We didn't tell you. But we can't afford it. I think it's better that a school know that. Apply knowing that it's a reach financially. Apply for scholarships. And apply knowing that perhaps the decision is going to have to come down to money in the end.

Learn about: College admissions advice for parents: how to discuss college with your teen from Robert K. Cooke, MEd,...

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Robert K. Cooke, MEd

Upper School Director

Robert has been in K-12 education for thirty years; for sixteen years he was a high school history and social studies teacher, teaching subjects such as AP US History, Western Civilization, World History, Economics, and Anthropology. His school administrative career has been equally varied, serving as Director of Activities at a large public high school, and a Middle School Director and Upper School Director at independent (private) schools in the Midwest and California. Robert earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from Carleton College, and his Master's in Education from Claremont Graduate University. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Robert has served on school accreditation teams in the Midwest and California. He has two children, one of whom is an acting and English Literature double major at a large urban university on the East Coast, while the other is a high school junior in Los Angeles.

 

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