What parents should know now about college applications

Back-to-school season includes something a little extra — OK, a lot extra — for high school seniors. In addition to those final football games, tough Advanced Placement classes and after-school jobs, time-pressed and stressed teens have to craft topnotch college applications this fall. How can parents help, and how much should they? Consider these helpful tips.

“There is no secret to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Gen. Colin Powell

  1. Time management is key. Now is a good time to create a calendar to show the application dates for each college of interest. Priority applications to Florida universities are typically due in October, which gives your student a limited window to gather recommendations, write essays and fill out applications. Encourage your child to start early and space out the work into weekly goals; you may want to help them get organized and offer accountability.
  2. Finish your research. If your child is still unsure about where they want to apply, the waning weeks of summer are a great time to peruse school websites and make road trips to visit colleges.
  3. Get advice. Talk to anyone who can help you through the process, whether it’s guidance counselors, admissions officers, or friends whose kids have recently survived the college application process. Ask the last group what they wish they’d known.
  4. Check in with your finances. Budget some money for application fees (about $35 a pop for Florida’s universities). More importantly, consider the big picture of paying for college, and bring your child into the conversation. We hope that your Florida Prepaid is in place and has been giving you peace of mind for many years! If you don’t also have a Florida 529 Savings Plan, now can be a good time to open one and invest in it for books and tuition. You can even invite friends and family to contribute for holiday and graduation gifts using the eGift portal.
  5. Consider which college choice is most affordable. You may wish to explore the significant savings of attending a Florida State College for the first two years and then transferring to a Florida university. Finally, start researching and gathering data for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.
  6. Offer moral support. As your child works through the tedious application process, celebrate each checking of a box with a positive word or a high five. And talk about things unrelated to the college application process, too. Senior year is such an exciting time. Don’t let it pass either of you by.

Have questions? We’ve got answers! Explore our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about our Prepaid Plans and Savings Plan. And click here to start your savings now!


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