As a parent, it’s natural to want your child to make the most of their time in high school. Secondary school is, after all, a vital preparatory step for college. A person’s performance in high school can impact their long-term academic and professional success.
To get your student off to the right start, it’s useful to create a roadmap of sorts. Here’s how to help your child develop a solid academic and extracurricular plan for high school and beyond.
Talk To A College Admissions Consultant
It isn’t unusual for kids to flounder when it comes to their education and chosen career path. Most teenagers have little to no job experience. Therefore, asking them to plot out their professional future is like throwing a non-swimmer into the deep end of a pool. If your student doesn’t know what college they want to go to or what career to pursue, don’t worry. They may just need guidance from someone who can assist them in navigating the complexities of this particular life phase.
A college admissions consultant is trained to help high school students prepare for the college experience. They can provide valuable insight into the college admissions process and give students guidance for becoming competitive applicants. They can also help your child analyze what careers they’re best suited for based on their interests and academic strengths. Talking with an admissions consultant can give your child the tools necessary to succeed in high school and college.
Set Long- And Short-Term Goals
Every good high school plan should start with clearly stated goals. Otherwise, your student won’t know what to shoot for in terms of selecting classes. Discuss with your child what they hope to achieve in high school and what professional interests they might explore. Then, assist them in developing short-term and long-term goals to bring them closer to their destination.
In addition to hashing out their academic goals, your child will also need to consider how they’ll pay for college. While the burden of college tuition often falls on parents or grandparents, a part-time job can allow your student to put money aside for college expenses. You should also talk about college scholarships and how they can defray your child’s higher education costs. Many scholarships are based on academic performance, so it’s important for your child to keep their high school grades up to win them.
Get A Handle On Time Management
Many high schoolers struggle to manage their time wisely. This is especially true if they’re attending school while also working a part-time job or playing on a sports team. It’s important for students to learn proper time management so they can get homework and other projects done on time. Students who manage their time well tend to have higher productivity, better grades, and a better outlook on life. They also tend to perform better in college, where good time management skills are essential.
If your child procrastinates doing homework, forgets assignments, or struggles to prioritize tasks, you can help. Encourage your struggling student to use a planner, digital or analog, to stay on task. Instruct them to write down the things they need to do in order of priority. For motivation, your student can attach incentives to completing items on their to-do list. For example, if they turn in an English assignment on time, they can go laser-tagging with friends during the weekend.
Understand Graduation Requirements
Not all high schools maintain the same graduation requirements. It’s essential for you and your child to understand exactly what’s required to graduate from their school. If you aren’t clear on these, talk to the school’s guidance counselor. They’ll assist your student in selecting the right classes and earning the required number of credits for a diploma.
Instead of planning high school classes year by year, it’s wise to figure out your child’s entire four-year plan in advance. Doing so can boost your child’s confidence that they’re on the right track to graduate and eventually get into college. If minor changes need to be made to your child’s schedule along the way, that’s OK. Just make sure they’re still getting all the credits required to walk across the stage at graduation.
Consider College-Level Courses
Your child can earn college credit and get a head start on their post-secondary education by taking Advanced Placement classes. AP courses are high school classes that are overseen by the College Board, which administers the SAT. Taking such classes in high school can qualify your student to take more advanced college classes once arriving on campus. In this way, they can cut down the time it takes to graduate from college with their chosen degree.
The benefits of taking college-level classes in high school are compelling, but your student should know that AP courses are rigorous. They require a significant investment of time and effort. Plus, AP exams cost around $100 each. For students who take multiple AP classes, these examination fees can add up quickly. Keep these factors in mind when helping your child determine whether to take AP classes, and if so, how many.
Schedule Time For Extracurricular Activities
It’s important that your child set off on the right path to academic success. But don’t forget that overwhelming your child with too many scholastic responsibilities isn’t a good thing. If your child is overloaded with too many difficult classes, it could cause them to get lower grades in each one. That won’t help them get into the college of their choice.
To make sure your student maintains a well-balanced life in high school, encourage them to schedule time for extracurricular activities. Let your child choose which activities they enjoy most and want to spend their time on. They might play sports or do something that appeals to their creativity, like drama. As long as they’re enjoying themselves, there’s no right or wrong extracurricular activity to participate in.
Your child’s attitude and performance in high school will have a big impact on their accomplishments throughout life. Use these tips to help them develop a solid high school plan and map out a successful future.