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My 11th grade son

MelodyA3MelodyA3 0 replies1 threads New Member
What should I be doing to prepare my 11th grade son for college?
36 replies
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Replies to: My 11th grade son

  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6544 replies209 threads Senior Member
    You can find several college checklist (by grades):




    11th grade is when you're start planning and taking standardized test (PSAT, SAT and ACT), researching colleges (and doing visits) and working out the potential cost.
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  • MrMom62MrMom62 3473 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Sign up for the ACT/SAT. Go to college fairs. Start taking college tours. Get guide books. Run EFCs so you know what you can afford. Start a conversation with him so you know what he's thinking. Talk to the school college/guidance counselor.

    To be honest, you're a little late to the game. You need to start doing a lot of those things yesterday. Get started now.
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  • HannaHanna 14866 replies42 threads Senior Member
    Evaluate whether the school provides good guidance and support for students similar to your son, or whether you want to investigate other sources of help.
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    As others have told you or will tell you, 11th grade is a little late in the game.

    To some extent, you have to rely on what he has already done -- for example, what courses he has taken in high school -- rather than advising him on the best options. (For example, if he didn't take a foreign language, that will restrict his choices, but it's too late to do anything about it now.)

    But despite whatever may have happened in the past, there are important things to be doing now.

    First, it's time for a serious look at family finances. How much can your family afford to spend on college? And how will this affect your son's college choices? Once the adults in your family have gotten a handle on this, it's important to share the information with your son so he will have a realistic view of what's possible and what's not when the time comes to apply to colleges next year.

    Second, it's time for standardized testing. Your son should take the SAT and/or ACT this spring, which means signing up now. Depending on what sort of colleges he plans to apply to, he may also need to take SAT Subject Tests this spring.

    Third, it's time to find out what your son is thinking of in terms of education after high school. By the middle of 11th grade, many young people have some idea of what they want. Some kids have very specific ideas; others have only vague notions. Some may have unrealistic plans. (The kid with a C average who dreams of Harvard needs a dose of reality.) But it's important to find out what he's thinking, not just to tell him what you're thinking. You may be surprised at what you find out when you have this conversation with him.
    edited December 2014
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  • thumper1thumper1 78495 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    It is not too late to begin looking towards the future after HS.

    1. What does your son want to do after HS? College? Vocational school? A job?

    2. What is your budget in terms of costs?

    3. If college...what is your son's current GPA? Did he take the PSAT in the fall? What was the score?

    4. If college, what are his interests? Do you have an geographic preferences or interests?

    5. What else does your son do? Any extracurricular activities?

    6. And yes...what Blossom said... Life skills and independent living skills are important as well.
    edited December 2014
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  • justice66justice66 141 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Pay attention to workshops offerred in your area. Sometimes workshops are only made known to students in college prep classes like IB or Governor's school but they are open to all students. Also check with local colleges in your area. Most colleges offer outreach programs to the community. This could include financial aid counseling and test preparation.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83881 replies744 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    Assuming that his goal is to go to college for a bachelor's degree...

    Best would be to take the SAT and ACT this spring. Some students do better on one compared to the other. If a higher score is desired, the initially higher one can be used as a base for additional preparation and a retry in the fall.

    Also, check if any colleges of interest use SAT subject tests. If so, then taking those corresponding to courses being completed this year at the end of the spring would be a good idea.

    For the parent, run some net price calculators on some representative colleges (e.g. state flagship, local state university, and private colleges of interest -- include colleges which are match and safety level for admissions, not just reaches) to get an idea of what net price you are looking at. Figure out what the limit of your contribution that you need to tell him before he finalizes his application list. He can go slightly over your contribution with federal direct loans and/or work earnings (but $10,000 over, needing both the maximum federal direct loan and the maximum realistic student work earnings, is probably the outer limit with little or no room for error). If he is not a top end student, be sure to consider the risk of needing an extra semester or two to graduate.
    edited December 2014
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  • Jugulator20Jugulator20 1568 replies19 threads Senior Member
    Adding alternatives: I’d also say don’t panic if S isn’t as far along as others in his post high school plans. Not everyone goes to a 4 year college. There are other viable options such as community colleges. A community college option could ease a lot of stress especially as to improving his GPA (if needed), taking/doing well on SAT/ACT off table, costs (financial and time involved) of applying to 4 year colleges, time to gain more focus/personal growth after hs graduation, etc. The military could be an option.

    Just to clarify: my “as to improving his GPA” is not meant to say OP’s S shouldn’t be trying to do well while still in hs.. He absolutely should. It’s meant to mean OP’s S has completed 5 semesters and if he is marginal GPA wise, he’s not going to push GPA needle much higher in one, possibly two semesters. Trying to do so could turn out to be a needless source of stress..

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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama 84339 replies1048 threads Forum Champion

    Don't let others scare you. You're not too late. (gee guys, way to scare someone unnecessarily!)

    What is your home state?

    How much can you contribute each year towards college?

    What is his likely major or career interests?

    What is his GPA

    Is he signed up for the SAT or ACT? If not, do so ASAP. Have him practice with some practice ACT and SAT books.

    Did he take the PSAT? If so, how'd he do?
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  • BTMellBTMell 1213 replies19 threads Senior Member
    Agreeing that you're not too late at all. We were so clueless with our older son and didn't really start looking at colleges until spring of his junior year. He had taken the SAT before that but still... He ended up with offers from most of the colleges he applied to with nice financial aid packages. Keep us posted!
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  • AlfonsiaAlfonsia 818 replies7 threads Member
    I think if I had to go back in time and change the timeline it would be to make sure the kid has LORs and GC stuff like transcripts etc lined up before going on summer break and nail the kid to the puter the day the applications open. What took us all by surprise was how few schools he applied to even took the common ap. For sure get the testing out of the way ASAP. So much of the pain for us has been following up the transcript and LOR uploads. I don't know how to make that better really.The whole setup is beset by bureaucratic hurdles that seem so unnecessary.
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  • wis75wis75 14395 replies65 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    Take note of all of the above suggestions. Pay attention to college visit possibilities. Now is the time to visit any local/nearby college campuses for you and your son to get a feel for the similarities and differences among them. But- not during winter breaks for colleges. Spring break ideally will be spent with one parent accompanying son on a trip to see potential colleges. I suggest one parent as it is far less complicated for two than more to travel, make meal plans et al. Also, a one parent to child ratio is better than double teaming. I presume your son still has a few days of winter break left. A good time to broach the subject of a father/son (mother...?) spring break trip to explore colleges. He can start dreaming of a vacation one-on-on without extra people. Plus go online to explore various schools. The specifics will depend on his grades and test scores plus where you live.
    edited December 2014
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9494 replies83 threads Senior Member
    You could do the one parent trip for reasons described in #14. It makes a lot of sense.

    But our family opted to do a trip with 2 parents and junior hs son (w/o older sis) for spring break junior year. We made it a combo trip of pleasure (3 days in San Diego) and 3 days of college touring near LA (Cal Tech, Pomona, Harvey Mudd). It was really great because we had a lot of time to talk about college, away from the pressures of schoolwork. Yes, it did cost more money to have both parents. But we do most vacations visiting extended family, and this as a nice change of pace for us.
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  • MidwestDad3MidwestDad3 2172 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Campus visits to a variety of schools. We found that the special "preview" or "open house" days were the most valuable, because generally there were lots more faculty around, and you often get fed which can cut down on costs! Common app opens up on Aug 1st; it is very worth it to get the essay (s) done early. And last, our D found overnight visits very helpful.

    As for getting ready, he/she should learn to do laundry. And a student at Earlham told us that success in college was all about managing your schedule well.
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    Why are people telling OP that her son is headed to CC or vocational school because they haven't made specific college plans by mid junior year? That's just absurd.

    I think people are saying it because this student may have made irrevocable choices that would now prevent him from being a candidate for many four-year schools. Some people assume that if a student fulfills the high school graduation requirements, that student has also fulfilled college admissions requirements, but this is not always true.

    For example, in my state, Maryland, our flagship state university requires students to have two years of a foreign language and four years of math to be eligible for admission. But the high school graduation requirements call for only three years of math, and foreign language is not required at all.
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  • Tperry1982Tperry1982 Forum Champion Yale 1568 replies6 threads Forum Champion
    @Marian - you are so right (BTW - we live in the same state!!). There are, of course lots of 4 year options for students at any level. So, they will have to look at schools based upon his specific situation. I see so many parents who are aiming for the tippy top schools for their kids and, like you said, it is way too late in the game for their kid to catch up on what is required.

    I have also seen kids wait until late first semester senior year to even get their heads in the college game and they found schools that fit their needs because it is obvious at that point they are not YHPS bound, which is a good thing because those schools are not right for most students. My high stress, high achieving D was always astonished about how laid back some of her friends were about the process. Despite all this, all of them are now happy where they are and just finished their freshman year.

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  • emilybeeemilybee 14770 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Only in CollegeConfidentalWorld do people think you are getting a late start.

    I assume your S has taken PSAT or PLAN already - so if you think his scores could stand improvement - signing up for test prep or private tutor might be of some benefit before he takes SAT/ACT this spring. That is what we did and S took the ACT in March, iirc, and SAT in June - then both again in fall of his senior year. He sent the fall scores to the schools where he applied.

    I also recommend doing a tour or two (or just walk through on your own) of some local colleges just to get an idea of what type of school he likes (big,small, urban, suburban, rural, etc.) A copy of Petersons or Fiske (or whatever guide appeals) to aid in helping him build a list of schools. Spring break would be a good time to tour as many schools on his list as possible. We spent the whole vacation week touring colleges.

    Then, depending on his test scores, list can be revised, and if needed tours planned for fall of Senior year, if possible.

    My son's school had a special class just for getting into college which started in January of his junior year - but I assume your son's doesn't (most schools don't) so you probably will want to be more involved than I was in crafting his list. Also, while doing that, think about what your budget is and if he will need to target schools where he would need to get merit aid and/or institutional aid to attend. If he is interested in a specific program of study you can also gear his list to schools around that - keeping in mind that many kids change their minds and many kids go to college undecided about what they want to study - which is perfectly fine, also.

    Run NPC's on all schools on his list before he applies to them. Also, if your son's school has Naviance you can look at that to see scores/gpa of accepted students from his high school.

    In addition, if you have any limits on how far he can go away from home - make sure he knows that while working on his list.

    He can start working on his essay over the summer and into the fall.

    My son's school had a specific deadline all apps had to be in by - but if your son's doesn't you can set your own deadline (for eg. Dec, 15th) so he has a firm end date.

    My S didn't even have the school he is at on his list initially. It was a late add on in Oct. of his senior year and we squeaked in a visit at the end of Oct.

    He also scheduled all of his interviews during fall of senior year. Some he had on campus but most were by alums of the school in our area. Some schools will also do interviews over skype if you are too far away to go for an interview.

    And try not to make every conservation for the next nine months about college.

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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    I agree that it is nuts to suggest that the OP's son is headed to CC or vocational school because they haven't made specific college plans by mid junior year. Get a grip - only in CC-world. I'm a jump-the-gun type and I'd already started thinking by junior year (which is when we did college visits) but really - in the real world, there are plenty of kids who don't even start thinking about this til the end of junior year, and they wind up going to perfectly fine and respectable four year colleges and having a perfectly fine life.

    In hindsight, both the financial discussions as to what you can afford and the "develop life skills" are as important, if not more important, than the actual college choice / discussions.
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