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.

67Found 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.
Graphic of Planning for College: 4-Year Guide for High School Students
Graphic of Planning for College: 4-Year Guide for High School Students

About the Author

Portrait of Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

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

Reviewed by

Portrait of Jenn Osen Foss

Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T., is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions and co-planning.

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