By Jessica Vician
While teachers, administration, and school staff are very aware that sophomores and juniors should be studying for their PSATs, SATs, and ACTs, respectively and preparing to take them soon, the students’ parents might not know how to help. For a better chance to succeed, students should be receiving support at school and at home. You can help by giving parents a checklist of things they can do to support their child’s entry exam prep.
Provide a list of free or low-cost resources provided by the school for SAT and ACT prep.
It’s important for the parents to understand how important these tests are, so that the students are receiving encouragement at school and at home. While many parents want to help their children succeed and get into college, some see cost as an obstacle. If your school offers free or low-cost test prep courses or tutoring, share that information and instructions for registration with your students and their parents.
Distribute a list of upcoming exam dates.
You should distribute the same information to students and their parents to ensure support from the home. Tell parents the what, where, when, why, and how of the SAT and ACT exams: what exam, when it takes place, what time it takes place, why their children need to take it, and how much it will cost.
Share important deadlines for FAFSA and scholarships.
Posting this information to the school’s website or Facebook page is good, but to reach all parents, be sure to send these deadlines to them via email, text, and/or on paper with the student.
Encourage parents to help students with admission essays and interview preparation.
As you know, some colleges require more than just an application with basic information. Many of the selective schools require an essay and may even require interviews with the student.
Ask parents to encourage their children to write a personal statement during junior year so the student can get used to the process and start thinking about topics that would be beneficial to college admission and/or scholarships. Parents are uniquely qualified to help define their children’s best qualities and provide a few examples of where they have seen their children using their positive characteristics.
Interview practice is also important. Provide parents with list of sample questions that a college admissions officer or scholarship team might ask during an interview so that they can practice with their students.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to go to school here?
- Tell me about a time when you were a leader.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Remind parents to practice the following with their children: a firm handshake, speaking with good eye contact, and getting comfortable wearing professional clothing for the interview.
These four tips are a great starting point for parents to help their children prepare for the college application and test-taking process. You can also help prepare parents for this process by hosting a parent workshop that focuses on college and career readiness and pointing them to our YOU Program parent-facing website, YOU Parent.