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Parental College Prep 101

Tips about a few things you may not have considered

As school years are ending, many parents experience both excitement and concern as their child finishes high school with a view toward attending college in the fall. My youngest son is heading to JMU in the fall so I am close to these issues. This article is by no means exhaustive but I will try to hit the high points that perhaps some are still struggling with.

  1. We tend to make assumptions that should be addressed directly with the college rather than merely assumed. Even though a medical plan is in place for your child and the college has all the information, have you considered what happens if your child is brought to an emergency room as an unconscious patient? Now that your "child" is 18 or older, the hospital system will treat him or her as an adult. That means if you don't have an advanced medical directive (AMD) in place, with you as the health-care proxy, they may not share any medical information or, more importantly, any medical control with you. Even if you use your medical coverage to protect your child, once they turn 18, you need an AMD to ward off such challenges.
  2. For those of us who religiously take our children with us to church, we need to ask what support is available at the college to allow continued participation. Is there a church on campus that suffices to meet your particular religious preference?
  3. If the college your child is attending has a generic curriculum for the first two years prior to choice selection, what is the relationship between the number of freshman admitted and the conditions to be admitted into a particular area of specialty? Is it possible your child will spend two years in a college only to find out that because they only got a 3.4 average they can't get the intended specialty?
  4. As many colleges are increasing freshman admissions as economic challenges are real, what is the prospect for your child getting on-campus housing as a sophomore? What are the financial, safety and convenience issues that surround upper classman housing? How many of us tour the surrounding neighborhoods when we visit a college campus the first time? Would we want our sophomore child living in over-priced squalor, which is the case at many colleges once you get a block or so off campus?
  5. To what extent is the college participating in recruitment and internships? College graduate unemployment rates seem incredibly high these days but college admission officers seem to spend more time on all the sizzle of overseas study programs versus the likelihood your child will walk into a reasonably high-quality job upon graduation.

I hope this has helped the parent who is going  through this the first time and for the rest of us just enjoy the gray hair as it is on its way.

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