Ideally, the parents of high school students are able to help them with the process of choosing a college and figuring out how to pay for it. However, for some teens, this may not be the case. Some families may be unfamiliar with the process and unaware of the resources available. Some parents may simply be overwhelmed, juggling multiple responsibilities that could include a demanding job and caring for their own parents. As an educator, you may be able to help fill in some of those gaps.
Work with the School Counselor
One of the jobs of the counselor is to help teens as they plan for higher education. The counselor can be a great resource for high schoolers, but in some cases, a student may need to be proactive to access those resources. As a teacher who might have more regular contact with kids and thus may know them better, you can direct them to the counselor for help with college applications, career questions and financial aid information.
Dealing with Costs
Some students may simply assume that higher education is something that they can’t afford. They may think it is only for kids from wealthy families who can pay full tuition. They might be unaware of the steps they need to take to get money for college, starting with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They may not know that they can make up the difference by applying for private student loans. The prevalence of online lenders can make this application process fast and easy. They may also not know how to search for scholarships. You can keep them informed of these options.
Encourage Preparatory Classes
Promising students who do not anticipate going to college might ignore AP and other classes that could better prepare them academically. You can encourage them to take these classes. This encouragement can be helpful for all grade levels, but it may be particularly helpful if you teach ninth graders since they can start planning the next three years. Some local community colleges offer classes that high school students can take, and in some cases, there might not even be a charge for them. Ensure that the kids you teach are aware of these opportunities.
Keep Possibilities Open
One difference between kids who go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree and those who don’t is that those who do often grow up with the expectation in their family that college naturally follows high school and that this is what the child will do after graduation. You can do this in your classroom. It isn’t the right choice for every kid and is not necessarily a superior choice compared to other courses of action a teen might be planning to follow, such as joining the military or learning a trade, and it is important that you don’t imply that. However, you can broaden horizons for the kids in your classes by talking about the opportunities available. If you are in charge of an extracurricular club or activity, you can encourage students to get involved to enhance their college applications.