With my first son waiting on regular decision results, here are some advices that I would give parents who, just like me, are first time parents to aspiring college students.
*brass music lessons. (Most good colleges have marching bands and could use the help as well as alternates)
*swim team (this is an ‘leader’ opportunity for extra-curricular section that shows free community swim lessons given by your child)
*high school with AP’s (our current high-school is limited with just a few ap classes)
*public school (private school was a money drain, the difference in average SAT scores was about 30 pts. for our area)
*summer programs (another thing I didn’t know is that many colleges offer high quality level programs over the summer to sophomore and juniors, this is prime in the eyes of admissions boards)
*no early decision (ED is for rich people that know for sure that they can afford the school they’re applying to)
*watch your assets (I sold a house for a tiny profit and refinanced my current house with it, fafsa is blind that I don’t have that money anymore and still shows an insane income that doesn’t exist, now it looks as if I’m rich ugh!)
*visit schools (pay close attention to dorm size, quality of walls and floor tiles, recreation areas, library comfort and distance to dorms, travel between class distance, surrounding town, grass maintenance, all these show hidden concerns)
*don’t depend too much on guidance counselor (some of what he says may be hearsay from other’s opinions which were skewed, CC is a better place to get a huge variety of opinions about a school from bad to good)
*take SAT improvement course before the first attempt (the $899 was worth it but would have been better beforehand to show only one test taken)
*take ACT also (the more attempts at standardized testing the better because you then only send your best superscore of either one in)
*$90/wk from birth (If I had known college would be so expensive I would had saved. I put myself through community college with full financial aid thinking college was cheap, little did I know it all depends on EFC of which was a drastically different case when I was a kid)
I divulged a few personal things here but I am really concerned that someone has to go through the problems that I went through so I hope this helps.