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5 Tips That Can Help Get Your Kids Into College

Saving money for college is a daunting proposition.  But there's another big challenge—making sure your high school sophomore or junior is doing the right things to improve the odds of being admitted to college.  Here are five tips for helping bolster your children's academic standing:

1.  Selecting the right classes.  The courses your child chooses do make a difference, particularly if the goal is to get into a top-flight college or a particular field of study.  For instance, if your child wants to enter one of the top U.S. engineering programs—at Georgia Tech, Purdue, MIT, or another leading school—he or she will need to have taken at least trigonometry and pre-calculus.

College admissions counselors base acceptance decisions on high school coursework completed through the junior year.  They'll also want to see a list of classes a student will be taking as a senior.  You can help by finding out what courses are required, or preferred, by the colleges on your child's wish list. 

2.  Test preparation.  Whether your child is taking the SAT, the ACT, or both, doing well on these tests is likely to require considerable preparation.

Getting ready can take many forms, from buying a guide that walks kids though the exam and gives test-taking strategies, to completing online SAT practice tests from the College Board, to signing up for a formal SAT/ACT preparation course.  At the very least, the published guides and online samples can be a good way for students to become familiar and comfortable with the test format.

If you think your child will need more intensive help to ace the test—many bright, talented students aren't great test-takers—you may find that coursework, tutors, and anxiety-coping strategies can be effective.

3.  Summer experience.  For many high school students, the summer between their junior year and senior year is their last opportunity to gain real-life experience that is relevant to their career interests.  It also can provide excellent material for college essays and personal statements that students may be asked to explain why they're interested in a particular college or area of study.

Students might gain experience through a job, an internship (paid or unpaid), or they might interview people in fields that interest them.

4.  Vacation with a purpose.  A summertime family trip could be a great time to visit prospective colleges. While you're there:

  • Pick up copies of the student newspaper to find out what's going on at the school.
  • Ask questions of students and residents to learn what the climate will be like when it's not summer.
  • Seek out the professors in your child's areas of interest.  Faculty schedules in the summer are often less frantic than during the academic year.  This is also an ideal time to make a positive, lasting connection with an admissions counselor.  The summer pace is slower for the admissions staff, too, and they have more time to spend with families.
  • While visits are important, it's easy to fall in love with the campus of a college that may be out of reach for a particular student.  On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with aiming high, and working harder to get into a dream school could be a benefit no matter what.

5.  Advance planning for the application process.  The more students can find out about the colleges they want to attend, including application requirements, the better prepared they may be to throw themselves into a very selective application process.  Two of the most intensive aspects of that process are essays and letters of recommendation.

There's no "one-size-fits-all" essay.  Many colleges now require essays of various lengths and topics in addition to the essay prompts on the Common Application.  Here, too, preparation can be very helpful, with students thinking about what they want to write and taking the time to develop an effective essay. 

As far as recommendations go, keep in mind that the best teachers are likely to be in great demand, and it's important to get a request in early. 

Of course, your part in this process, beyond helping your student prepare and not miss important deadlines, is to make sure you're financially ready to foot part or all of the college tab.  Good preparation isn't just for the kids.



INDEX
  • Watch Out For ''Grandparent Scams''
  • Tune Into The Tax Break For NUA
  • How You Can Manage Risk Aversion
  • When To Disclaim An Inherited IRA
  • IRS Reveals The ''Dirty Dozen'' Tax Scams For '17
  • Timely Tax Angles To Dividends
  • 7 Financial Steps Forward In A Second Marriage
  • IRS Applies IRA Rollover Limit To Coverdell ESAs
  • Seek The Comfort Of A Pet Trust
  • Mutual Fund Sell Downs And Other Unintended Consequenses For Investors:
  • What's The Truth About Probate?
  • Britain Votes To Leave The European Union, Surprising The World
  • Five Big Tax Penalties To Avoid At All Costs
  • 5 Reasons To Amend Your Estate Plan
  • Top Court Mandates 401(k) Fee Duty
  • Turning Up The HEET For Education
  • Saving For Private Or Prep School? A Tax-Smart Way
  • Here Are 6 Common Roth IRA Mistakes To Avoid
  • IRS Zeroes In On Dirty Tax Scams In 2015
  • Combine Investment And Tax Benefits In 529 Plans
  • Want To Get Your Business Noticed By The News Media?
  • Learn The Ins And Outs Of Education Tax Breaks
  • Locked Out Of A Roth IRA? Go In Through Back Door
  • How To Manage Your Tax Brackets Now And Later
  • Fill Up Tax Brackets To The Brim
  • Why Roth IRAs Are Still Red-Hot
  • Want To Get A Copy Of Your Credit Report? It's Free!
  • 5 Tips That Can Help Get Your Kids Into College
  • Reminders On Your Beneficiary Choices
  • Enter The Five Dimensions Of Federal Income Taxes
  • How Did The Federal Government Shutdown Affect The Economy?
  • SLATs Fit Through The Cracks In Estate Plans
  • The Bypass Trust: Not Pronounced Dead Quite Yet
  • When Do You Need An Appraisal?
  • 7 Major Tax Changes In The Fiscal Cliff Law
  • What Is Safe For You To Put Into A Safe Deposit Box?
  • Dig Deep Into ''Treasure Assets''
  • It's A Question Of Proper Balance
  • Tough Talk On Hardship Withdrawals
  • Stock Option Rules After Job Loss
  • Don't Put Mid-Year Moves On Hold
  • Which Retirement Funds Should You Withdraw First?
  • Is The Federal Reserve Risking Hyperinflation?
  • A Common Error In Powers Of Attorney
  • When Is Life Insurance A Sensible Solution?
  • 5 Excellent Tax Blogs And Websites
  • Knowhow On Year-End Tax Planning
  • A Once-In-A-Lifetime Estate Tax Choice
  • Set Up Your Trust To ''Fail'' On Purpose
  • Charitable Rollovers: There's Still Time
  • 7 Reasons To Update Your Financial Plan
  • Website Matches Volunteers With Non-Profits In Need
  • Trust Protector Is Useful, But Little-Known Solution
  • Tax Tips When You Acquire Software
  • Not All ETFs Are Tax-Efficient Anymore
  • The Delicate Dynamics Of China-U.S. Economic Policy
  • U.S. Government Bailouts Have A Mixed Record
  • Planning Your Retirement Using Stock Options
  • What Historically Follows Severe Economic Crises
  • Despite The Global Crisis, The World Is Getting Better
  • Will The New Silicon Valley Transform The Economy?
  • What A Difference A Year Makes In Ten-Year Returns
  • Now's A Time To Recall Financial Planning Basics
  • The Importance Of Year-Round Tax Planning
  • Federal Estate Tax Exemption... Going Up!
  • Court Ruling Limits Fee Deductions For Trusts
  • Not All Variable Annuities Have High Fees
  • Are You Putting Too Much Money Back Into Your Business
  • Credit Crunch Places Focus On Rating Agencies
  • Find An Expert In Almost Anything On The Internet
  • Beware Of Social Security Identity Theft
  • Regulatory Guidelines Update
  • Succession Planning For Solo Businesses
  • Energy Systems Scale and Timeline
  • The Oil Patch Profit Squeeze
  • Free Credit Reports Available Online
  • Don't Forget About Roth 401(k)
  • Understanding the Importance of a Fiduciary Standard
  • Emerging Market Food Consumption Growth Equals Rising Prices
  • Emerging Market Food Consumption Growth Equals Rising Prices
  • Timber As A Liquid Investment
  • Emerging Market Food Consumption Growth Equals Rising Prices
  • Ethanol: Salvation or Panacea?
  • Timber Facts
  • Bank Loan Funds - A Primer
  • A Primer On Managed Futures
  • REITS: A Very Good Portfolio Diversifier, But Should You Invest In Them?
  • Does Investing Internationally Still Diversify Your Portfolio?
  • Another Way To View The Current Valuation Of REIT Sector
  • Understanding Risk-Preparing For The Unseen
  • What Is Shorting Expense?
  • How Dangerous Is A Dollar Crash?
  • How Volatile Can The Stock Market Be?
  • Too Many ''Phish'' In The Sea
  • GMO 7-Year Asset Class Return Forecast Is Bleak
  • The Case For Industrial Metals
  • Identity Theft In The New Year
  • Ways To Improve The Score
  • Know The Score
  • Total Credit Market Debt (All Sectors) As % Of U.S. GDP
  • To Reinvest Or Not To Reinvest
  • Why Not Alternative Fixed Income Investments?
  • Just How Expensive Is The Market?
  • Beware of Brokerage Firms' Misconduct
  • Identity Theft : Correct Those Credit Reporting Errors
  • Risk-Controlled Investing
  • Q & A With Robert Arnott
  • Identity Theft : Applying For Credit? Better Check Your Credit Report First
  • Identity Theft: Everyday Prevention
  • Identity Theft: Help Is On Its Way
  • Identity Theft: Tips to Protect Yourself
  • Identity Theft: What Documents Should You Shred or Store?
  • Identity Theft : Don't Fall For That E-Mail!
  • Identity Theft : One More Reason To Protect Your Credit
  • Identity Theft: A Note About Social Security Numbers
  • What Do Rising Interest Rates Mean For Money Market Yields?
  • Section 529 Plans Are Popular But Not The Only Way To Go
  • The Importance Of Commodities In A Portfolio
  • A Tale Of Two Hedges
  • Bank Loan Funds: A Great Fixed Income Investment As Interest Rates Rise
  • REITs: A Great Diversification Investment
  • What Is Risk?
  • How To Find A Great Financial Advisor?
  • Is It Time To Find A New Financial Advisor?
  • Year-End Tax Planning Can Help Generate High Return On Investment
  • 4 Steps To A More Secure Investment Portfolio For Your Retirement
  • Traditional Investing May Decrease Your Retirement Lifestyle
  • Understanding Deflation
  • Tax Issues To Consider When Buying A Long-Term-Care Policy
  • Investing In Times Of Uncertainty And Risk: The Importance Of Diversification
  • Evaluating The Quality Of A Company's Earnings
  • Yesterday's Great Companies
  • 2001 Tax Relief Act Changes Education Planning
  • A Retirement Plan Primer After The 2001 Tax Act
  • Beware Of Common Home Repair Scams
  • Custodial Accounts: One Way To Make Gifts To Children
  • Estate Taxes To Be Reduced Then Repealed In 2010
  • Faulty IRA Conversions Can Lead To Tax Penalties
  • Many Individuals Pay Private Mortgage Insurance Beyond When It Is Necessary
  • Rethinking Estate Planning
  • Retirement Plan Contribution Limit Changes
  • Shopping For A Bank Account That Pays The Highest Possible Rate Of Interest
  • Your Medical File Report May Need A Check-Up
  • Do It Yourself Tax Preparers Watch Out: Tax Answers From IRS Centers Oftentimes Are Incorrect And/Or Insufficient
  • Five Tips For Preventing Thefts From Your Checking Account
  • Home Office Deductions: Hoops To Jump Through
  • Income Tax Effect On Single And Married Taxpayers
  • Income Tax Planning For Investments
  • Property Tax Challenges Should Not Be Overlooked
  • The IRS Will Follow Your Wealth To The Ends Of The Earth
  • When Do You Need Life Insurance
  • Year-End Tax Defferal Planning
  • Is Your 401(k) Plan A Failure?



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