Steps in the Right Direction: Tips for Parents of College-Bound Kids

As a parent, navigating the college application process can be daunting. You don’t want to limit options, but yet need to be realistic with your child’s expectations. While attending college is a big step toward independence for your child, you still play a key role in guiding your child as they make crucial decisions about their future. So what steps do you need to take to get your child ready for college?

Do your research, then get in touch

The first step of navigating the path to college is to get to know the landscape. That’s why UNCF provides a wealth of resources to equip you for this journey. Check out the For Parents page on the UNCF website, and download a checklist specially created for parents of college-bound kids who are still on the younger side. For high school kids, have your child check out the UNCF “Getting Into College” checklist. It’s a great first step to planning out the crucial years leading up to enrolling in a university. To get a better idea of student experiences and to catch up on the latest news about HBCUs, check out our blog.

As your child begins to research schools and compile a list of colleges that interest them, encourage your child to contact admissions counselors at their favorite schools or reach out with some questions yourself. Schedule a visit to campus if you can. Not only does communicating with college staff and making efforts to visit campus give you a more concrete idea of life at the school, but it also demonstrates that your child has a high level of interest in that university. This bodes well for their application—many colleges gauge level of interest as they consider a prospective student’s application.

If you and your child are feeling a bit lost in the college search process, if time and expense are barriers to making on-campus visits or if you just want to supplement the information and resources you have on hand, attend UNCF’s Empower Me Tour (EMT)©, a college roadshow that takes place at multiple locations across the United States. There you can learn from a series of presentations, panels and interactive workshops geared toward college-readiness and career-readiness. Many college recruiters at EMT events offer onsite admissions and academic scholarships on the spot, so students are encouraged to attend and bring high school transcript documentation to the events.

Talk about your budget, but keep an open mind

As your child decides what he or she wants and needs from a college, give them an idea of how much money you can or will contribute to help them narrow down their options and focus on universities that are a real possibility. It’s important, however, to keep an open mind. Scholarships can significantly cut down the cost and open up options you may not have thought possible. Many schools offer scholarships based on merit and on need. When in doubt, encourage your child to apply to the college or university and see what financial support they offer.

Applying for a UNCF scholarship can be a game-changer. As the nation’s largest private scholarship provider to minority group members, UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships to more than 10,000 students at more than 1,100 schools across the country each year.

Stay informed

The landscape of higher education is constantly changing. Whether college is right around the corner or a few years away, staying informed is key. Sometimes, it can seem like the amount of information available for parents of prospective students is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. While having lots of resources at hand is helpful to address questions and confusions you might have, staying on top of all the latest news can be overwhelming.

And, subscribing to UNCF e-mail communications is a great way to help filter out the noise and stay up to date on the things that really matter. With the right resources, you can guide your child to put their best foot forward—in college and beyond.