How to Prepare Your Teenager for College

Last Updated on August 9, 2019 by Diane Hoffmaster

This post about how to prepare your teenager for college is in partnership with Sylvan Learning, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Posts feature partner companies & may be sponsored. Post contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on links.

When I was a teen, getting into college wasn’t all that tough. I took the classes my guidance counselor recommended, took one SAT exam and applied to one college. Thankfully, I got accepted. No, I was not brilliant. Nor did I have anywhere NEAR a perfect SAT score. Things were just easier 25 years ago. My son is working on his first college application and we are really worried about whether he will get accepted at his college of choice. Despite many AP classes and a high GPA, the competition is fierce for those college spots. I want my kids to be able to choose the college THEY want, as long as it is within our budget. That means focusing on academic success to get their foot in the door. And that academic success doesn’t always come directly from the school!

How to Prepare Your Teenager for College

How to Prepare Your Teenager for College

There are several things you can do to help your child prepare for the academic rigor and independence they will need to succeed after they graduate high school. I thought I would share a few things that we have learned over the last few years as my children have gotten closer and closer to college age.  If your child is just about ready to flee the nest already, check out my post about having a child leaving for college.  It’s advice for you BOTH to make the transition easier. 

Encourage Academic Rigor

If you want to prepare your teenager for college, they need to be ready for some serious academic challenges. While you don’t want to overwhelm your teen with courses that are too hard for them, you don’t want them to skate by either. Talk to your child’s guidance counselor about courses that are available at their school. If they want to be competitive, especially for some of the top colleges, they will need to choose rigorous courses throughout their high school career. 

Make sure you don’t over-schedule them with extracurricular activities so they have time to study. It’s important to have a few outside activities but not a dozen of them. If they need additional help, talk to the teacher or check out Sylvan Learning for academic support. Teens who want to go above and beyond have many options available when it comes to tutors.

Focus on Independent Learning

I can guarantee that YOU (the parent) will not be heading off to college with your teenager.  If you are micromanaging their homework assignments and bringing them forgotten paperwork, you need to stop immediately.  

Learning how to prepare your teenager for college means that you need to step back and let them sink or swim on their own.  If they need help, give them all the resources that they need provided they are pulling themselves on their own as much as possible.

How to Increase Your SAT Scores

Learn How to Increase Your SAT Scores

One area I know we can help him improve is his SAT score. I recently partnered with Sylvan Learning to help him improve his SAT scores and will let you know how that goes in a couple of months.  For now, I wanted to share a few ways that you can increase your SAT score and improve your chances of getting into the college of your choice.

  • Build Up Your Vocabulary:  From a very early age, your child should be encouraged to read. Make sure they look up words they are not familiar with. Once they get older, they can move on to apps or dictionary flashcards. Encourage them to take online SAT practice exams to boost their vocabulary.
  • Show Work on Math Problems: Stress can have kids missing a step or making simple calculation errors. Encourage your child to write out all their work so they can see it in front of them. This helps minimize careless mistakes.
  • Use the Process of Elimination: SAT exams are multiple choice. Rarely will all answer choices sound correct. Eliminate the obviously wrong answers and then choose from the remaining options. Your chances of a correct answer will increase if there are fewer to choose from.
  • Take a SAT Prep Class from Sylvan Learning!  Honestly, the SATs incorporate a HUGE amount of material. The professionals at Sylvan Learning can help your teen keep it all straight in their head on test day! My son is currently enrolled in an SAT prep class at Sylvan Learning and it’s been a great experience so far.

How to Prepare Your Teenager for College

College Readiness from Sylvan Learning

Knowing how to prepare your teenager for college is easy. It is the work itself that is hard!  I took calculus and statistics and creative writing 25 years ago. I am definitely NOT the person to come to for college readiness!  Sylvan Learning has trained professionals whose jobs are to help your teenager master the challenging material they will need to understand for their SAT exam.

They provide personal tutoring programs for students in reading, math, writing, homework help, study skills, state test prep and college prep. They can help even high-level learners master study skills and improve their SAT scores as well as boost their GPA. Each tutor has his or her own areas of expertise and understands your school’s curriculum. Your teen will be paired with a tutor who can help them excel in the particular areas they need to focus on.

Not only will your teenager be given personal attention on lesson days, but they are also given written materials to work on, in addition to online access to an amazing collection of study materials. Sylvan learning is an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to improving college readiness and so far, my son is having a great experience with them. Keep your eyes out for a follow-up in a few months once he completes the course!

Learn how to prepare your teenager for college. This includes tips on academic readiness and how to increase your SAT scores.

It is getting harder and harder for teenagers to get accepted into the college of their choice.  Knowing how to prepare your teenager for college can make a big difference in whether or not they get accepted!  Follow Sylvan Learning on Facebook and Twitter for more information about college readiness.

Have any other college readiness tips to share?

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