It’s never too early to start talking with your children about college. As a parent, you will play an important role in helping your child prepare for college and getting them there. Creating a supportive and encouraging environment for academic success early will help them succeed.

Get the facts

about the college price tag.

The largest part of the college bill is the tuition. It’s not the only cost though – there are often university fees, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. But there are ways to slash the costs significantly, including financial aid and scholarships. Schools now have Net Price Calculators to help figure out what you’d need to pay instead of the published price.

Encourage your student to explore their interests.

Help your student explore career ideas – consider their talents, hobbies, interests and favorite activities. Encourage them to join clubs and participate in school activities – or activities outside of school, including volunteer and service.

Have your student schedule meetings with the school counselor

The school counselor is a great resource in preparing your child for college and maintaining a successful academic high school record. He or she can often provide information about getting into college, paying for college and finding the right college for your student.

Stay involved and keep your student motivated.

Check in regularly with your students about homework, tests and assignments. Celebrate their successes and work with them on any difficult classes.

Challenge your student.

Getting good grades isn’t the only thing colleges look at. They also look at the types of courses an applicant takes. Challenging courses, such as honors classes and Advanced Placement classes, can make an impact. Your student should ask their advisor about dual credit classes, allowing them to get college credit while taking a high school class.

Visit colleges together.

A big step in choosing a college is visiting it. You and your student can get a feel for what the campus, student life and academics is actually like.

Prepare for college entrance exams.

Start by having your student take the PSAT or PLAN tests. Review the results together, then get the help he or she needs to improve their score if needed. Have your student consider the SAT Subject Tests, too. When the time comes to take the SAT and ACT, encourage your student to take the tests early so they can retake them early senior year if needed.

Organize application deadlines and important dates.

Create a calendar with your student that highlights application deadlines to the schools they choose to apply and other important dates, such as testing and scholarship deadlines.

Complete the paperwork for enrollment

Once your student has chosen their college, help them complete their paperwork. He or she will need to accept the offer, submit paperwork (including immunization records) and put down a tuition deposit.

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