How your high schooler can start preparing for college
College might seem light years away to a high schooler, but to a parent it feels right around the corner. So what can one do to prepare? Here are some tips for those that might need a cheat-sheet for college prep.
Should my high schooler take AP classes?
The short answer? Yes. One way to save money in college is to knock out some college level courses while still in high school. AP (advanced placement) classes allow high school students to get credit for general college courses. That way, when they get to college, they’ll already have a few gen-eds out of the way, and they might even be able to graduate early. One less semester to pay for is definitely good for the wallet. Talk to your child about what AP courses their high school offers. They’re definitely worth the investment.
Learn how to budget in high school
When they go off to college, it’ll likely be the first time they have to run their own financial show. If you’ve taught them well, hopefully they won’t spend all of their high school pizza delivery money within a semester. To make it easier, teach your child about how to make a budget while they’re still in high school. Have them track their income and expenses now so they’ll be a pro by the time they hit campus. An easy way to do this is to have them open a checking account. Some financial institutions have special checking accounts for high school or college students that can be opened through a parent’s account. At Andigo Credit Union we offer checking accounts for everyone and don’t label them separately. Being a “poor college student” might be inevitable, but budgeting will help them have some cash.
How can they start building credit?
A credit card is a great way to start building credit at a young age. Most high school students will need a co-signer to get one, and that’s where a parent or guardian would assist. Make sure they understand that your credit is on the line when you co-sign for them. You can even add them as an authorized user on your credit card so that they can borrow your good credit history. If you’re uncomfortable with either of those options, you can encourage them to get a credit card from a store. They can use that card to build up a good credit history of their own, and eventually apply for a card by themselves. Be sure to emphasize the importance of not carrying a balance, and make sure they understand that they shouldn’t spend more than they can pay off at the end of the month.
Apply for as many scholarships as possible
There’s a plethora of scholarships out there, and if they score a couple it can help pay for a big portion of tuition. Have your child start researching scholarships starting in their senior year of high school, or even junior year if you want to get ahead of the game. Websites like Fastweb and ScholarshipPoints are great sources to find them. Even smaller scholarships that amount to $500 might seem small, but they can add up quickly. How many hours would they have to deliver pizzas to make that amount of money, versus the time it takes to fill out an application? When you present it that way, hopefully they realize it’s time well-spent.
College can be daunting for parents and students alike. If you start preparing for it early, it’ll be a lot easier to handle, from the acceptance letter to the cap and gown. If you’re interested in shaving off some of the costs of higher education, we have our very own scholarship for high school seniors.