Leaving high school

Planning for College: A 4-Year Guide for High School Students

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

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Planning for college takes time and effort. This four-year guide can help kids with learning and attention issues and their parents keep their eye on the ball.

43Found this helpful
Planning for College: A 4-Year Guide for High School Students

Planning for college is a big job. Setting goals and staying organized is especially important if your child has learning and attention issues. This year-by-year guide will help keep your child—and you—on track throughout high school.

Freshman Year
• Understand your child’s needs and be able to explain them to others.
• Continue your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or create a new one with the school.
• Meet with her guidance counselor or case manager to review her schedule.
• Learn what accommodations and special tools she needs.
• Get involved in school and community activities.

Sophomore Year
• Explore your child’s interests with her and begin to look into possible careers.
• Stay involved in your child’s activities.
• Make sure your child takes the PSAT, which is a pre-test for the SAT.
• Stay active in your child’s IEP meetings. But begin handing off responsibilities to your child, such as having her speak up at meetings for accommodations.
• Check in with the guidance counselor to keep up with college requirements.

Junior Year
• Help your child begin to narrow down career goals. (Don’t worry, these can change.)
• Begin to look for colleges that match your child’s interests.
• Work with her IEP team and guidance counselor to keep your child on track.
• Learn about nancial aid and scholarships that might be available to your child.
• Make sure your child signs up for the SAT and/or ACT and meets deadlines for requesting testing accommodations. (She may need the help of a guidance counselor or special education coordinator.)
• Visit colleges and meet with each school’s support services office.
• Begin talking with your child about the personal essay required by most colleges.

Senior Year
• Make a list of application deadlines.
• Have your child ask for letters of recommendation.
• Have your child write the personal essay and have several people review it.
• Work with her IEP team to help complete applications. Most are due by early winter.
• Have an adult, such as a teacher or counselor, proof each completed application.
• Once she’s accepted, visit colleges before making a choice about which to attend.
• Once she decides which college to attend, consider a pre-admission summer program to ease her transition.
• By the last IEP team meeting, your teen should be able to advocate for herself.

If you and your teen are looking into colleges, here are some things to consider. You may also want to learn about types of colleges and how they differ.

About the Author

Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos is a writer and editor for many national publications.

More by this author

Reviewed by Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T. May 15, 2014 May 15, 2014

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