Who would have ever thought that preparing your child for college would be one of the hardest tasks one can imagine. Just think only a few years ago, I was giving birth to someone who was completely depending on me. I told her what to do and I molded her into what I felt would make her a better individual. As I looked back on my childhood, I made a vow that my children would be able to decide at the end of their high school year what path he/she may want to take. Be it college, technical school or going out into the workforce, I would be proud of them and know that whatever they decided to do with their lives that they would do their best and become successful.
I wanted to make sure that they valued mankind. So, I allowed them to assist me on many of my volunteer ventures. I knew that this would help to develop their characters and allow them “to do unto others as they would want them to do unto them.” It wasn’t hard for me to know that they must develop a compassion for others and always know that everyone needs to be loved and feel wanted. They were taught that they couldn’t always choose the way their lives may turn out to be, but they must have faith that there will be a better day.
Now I look at my daughter as she prepares to graduate this May. I am in total amazement on what the future will hold for her. Although she has selected a college major and has high hopes of attending the college of her first choice, I still wonder if I have done enough to ensure that her entry into her freshman year will be the way she wants. You see being a parent is tested when your child is preparing to attend college. Like many parents, I don’t have a lot of money saved where I can just write a blank check to the school of my daughter’s choice. I had to decide early what role I would play in preparing her for college. There was only one conclusion and that was to play an active role.
Because I had already gone through one child going to college, I was aware of the importance of making my child well rounded, if you wanted them to seek scholarships and/or financial assistance. I made sure that whatever community service organization or project my daughter did, I wanted her to enjoy it and know that the purpose of volunteering was not just to get points for college, but rather to make a difference in one's life. I told her that volunteering is quality, not quantity.
I knew also that her academic achievements would have to be on a competitive level to compete with other students on a local or national level. She took honor classes to help balance her regular classes. The honor classes also allowed her to comprehend her subject matters in an intense way and to help in preparing her for college courses.
But as I got close to the end of her senior year and could feel the intense stress that was taking over her, I wondered if I had done enough. I asked myself, “What could I do to ensure that she would make it to the finish line?” I began to work closer with her to make sure that she made a list of the colleges/universities she wanted to attend along with the requirements and deadlines for registering and getting her financial aid information in on time.
I found myself attending meetings, workshops, and seminars that would assist in learning how to find, research or get scholarships or college information. I started also surfing the Internet for scholarships that I felt that my daughter could apply for. I found myself networking with other parents that were seeking the same purpose of obtaining scholarships for their child.
Overall trying to be a survivor in this fast paced cycle of getting one's child admitted and finding ways to get his/her tuition paid has truly been rewarding. I can now see why it is important for anyone to start early in the process. You cannot wait until the deadline, but you must be aware of what is required of each college or university you want your child to attend. You as a parent must sometimes have to fill out the college applications and allow your child the opportunity to write his/her essay without the pressure of worrying about the other needed paperwork. We as parents must realize that this is a “we” process and how much we put into this process will determine how much our child will receive from it. A child must never take the path of preparing for college alone, but have a parent or someone to talk to or discuss their future with. Preparing for college is an important step in a child's and his/her parents’ lives. We must teach our children how to survive and strive to be the best he or she can be.