Saturday, July 4, 2009

Things I Learned about Parenting A High School Senior

So, I was thinking about how much effort went into parenting Amanda during her senior year, and I thought I would share some of the things I learned. There were many things I didn't expect, and wished someone had told me, so hopefully this will be helpful to someone else!

I learned....

1. A lot of money goes out for senior year stuff. All I can say is: save money for the senior year. For example: announcements, postage, cap/gown stuff, tickets to graduation ceremony, senior pictures, gifts for other seniors, college application fees, prom, accumulating items for the future dorm like bedding and laptop, etc., etc.....

2. Start preparing in the junior year. Its good for the student to study for SAT test, student as well as mom/dad should research colleges and narrow down choices, buy books and learn about college application processes, research scholarships (buy books and/or go online for that), learn about the FAFSA (federal application for financial student aid), talk to lots of people who have gone through it and get their wisdom....

3. Kids need a lot of guidance and help through this process. Create a calendar with all the application deadlines, SAT tests, scholarship deadlines, senior pic day, deadline to order cap/gown, etc and help keep the student on track. Guide, guide, guide and prepare to spend a lot of time sitting with them to help fill out forms, applications and write essays. Don't let them wait until the last minute - its too stressful. And don't leave this stuff to them. They don't get the importance of all of it, and they need some pushing and reminders. Be prepared for a lot of mental and emotional work on your part.

4. Let them choose their school and their career path, but be prepared to do a lot of work to help get them where they want to go. They don't have enough life experience to understand what they're doing, and its up to mom and dad to educate them every step of the way. Check up on their progress with questions. Did you write that essay? Did you fill out that form? Did you apply for that scholarship? Where are you at with _______? Asking questions is better than nagging and telling them what to do. They start realizing that it is their responsibility, and you're just asking if they got it done.

5. Help them understand the financial aspects of attending college. For example, Amanda's first choice of school was a private one. We estimated that she would be about $60,000 in debt if she graduated from that school vs. less than $20,000 if she graduated from a state school. We explained what that would look like for her in terms of living on her own and how difficult it would be to have the burden of a huge monthly payment. They haven't lived life yet, and they need help understanding the realities. We gave scenarios so she could picture her life in her mind: living in an apartment, having a car, what bills she might have, etc., and then adding a giant student loan payment to it and the limits there would be to her future budget, etc.

6. Talk about dorm life to get them thinking and preparing themselves for the transition. Talk about expectations they might have with dating, friends, work load, eating, how often to come home, what's going to happen to their bedroom at home, how mom and dad will support them, etc. Amanda is open to reading books. Some great dating books I have purchased for her are "Boundaries in Dating," by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. "He's Hot, She's Hot," by Jeremy and Jerusha Clark.

7. Just get ready. And start early. The junior year is when it should begin, and not the end of the junior year either. Start at the beginning of the junior year. Learn all you can, gather information, talk to parents who have gone through it and talk with your student about it. A LOT. Its their education and career, so they have to be doing the most of the work. I just found that it was my job to guide. A LOT. I didn't expect how mentally challenging that would be, but rewarding now that I see Amanda on her way to success.....

4 comments:

Rochelle said...

Wise words. I hope I remember all this when I have a high school senior!

Chelle said...

Excellent post! Sounds like all of you learned a lot this past year! :)

Elle J said...

Awesome post!! Although my kiddos are years away, as we all know, it goes by quicker than you think! Thanks for sharing ... give us more, more, more! :)

Anonymous said...

WOW! Thanks Jodi. Sounds like great advice and wisdom. That reminds me, Shane is a Junior this year. The good news is my daughter is 11.