Top 10 things parents can do to help their child prepare for college

By Maureen Brakke on September 16, 2015

Parents: How involved are you in your child’s college preparation process? Do you find it difficult to get involved? Do you feel you have enough resources to help you get involved or get started?

Here are ten things you can to do to get involved your child’s college preparation process:

  1. Start saving. Heard of 529 savings plans? These are tax-advantaged college savings plans you can open for your child to help with college costs. The Utah Educational Savings Plan is a top-ranked 529 plan. It’s never too early to start saving and the earlier, the better. Some open an account before they even have children, to get a head start.
  2. Have the talk. Get your children to start thinking about their future as early as possible. You can download the free Monte and the World of Possibilities book geared towards kindergarten and elementary school. This book encourages your children to dream about their future, and includes college in that dream.
  3. Find out about the Utah Scholars Initiative. Many Utah school districts are partners with the Utah Scholars Initiative (USI) which motivates students to complete a defined high school curriculum to be better prepared for college and their future. Students who graduate high school with the USI distinction receive a certificate and a medallion to wear at graduation and are also set up to apply for many scholarships.
  4. Ensure your child is taking the right courses. Taking rigorous courses in high school will prepare your child for a more successful college career. It will also set them up to be on track to apply for the Regents’ Scholarship and academic scholarships. StepUp has a grade-by-grade checklist for you and your child to look at to make sure they’re set up for success. Also look into options for earning college credit in high school, including  concurrent enrollment, AP/IB classes, etc. This could save you and your child a lot of money in college.
  5. Learn more about the Regents’ Scholarship with your child. The Regents’ Scholarship encourages Utah high school students to prepare for college academically and financially by taking a core course of study and saving for college.
  6. Explore the different types of certificates and degrees together with your child. Talk to your child about their dreams and goals and decide what certificate or degree they want to pursue.
  7. Encourage your child to look at local colleges and universities. In-state tuition is cheaper than out-of-state tuition. You can use our Facts-at-a-Glance page to compare Utah college costs. Encourage your child to learn about Utah colleges and universities here or using the StepUp College Guide.
  8. Get to know the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with your child. Learn about the FAFSA and know what supporting documents you and your child will need to fill it out online. Keep an eye out for StepUp FAFSA Completion Open house events in the spring!
  9. Attend StepUp events such as You can Pay for College Nights and FAFSA Completion Open House events. Paying for college events give you and your child a chance to learn about the different types of financial aid available to help pay for college and other financial resources from Utah’s financial aid experts. Representatives from Utah colleges and universities will also be there for information and to answer institution specific information. Find an event near you today.
  10. Learn about the 15 to Finish Initiative with your child. Every additional year of college is expensive, so encourage your child to graduate on budget and on time by taking 15 credits per semester. At most Utah colleges and universities, taking 15 credits costs the same as taking 12 credits per semester.