Help Your Child Prepare for College at Any Age

If you want your child to go to college, you don’t have to wait until they are teenagers to start getting ready. The suggestions below are all ways you can help and encourage them from the time they are very young.

Paying for College

Education is one of the biggest expenses in a person’s life. It also could potentially lead to a higher lifetime income, so it’s worth it, but it can be hard coming up with the money when you’re eighteen or conceptualizing how much you might have to borrow. As a parent, there’s plenty you can do to help your kid pay for it, and you don’t have to be wealthy. First, you may want to consider opening a 529 savings plan, even if your child is just an infant. This offers tax advantaged savings for educational expenses. If college is right around the corner, you can also take a loan out on your child’s behalf. A low-rate Private Parent Loan can help your child with the cost of tuition.

College and Family Culture

If it’s important to you that your child go to college, you can create a culture within your family in which this is simply the expected next step after high school. It helps to understand how and when to have the college talk with your kids. Even when your child is in elementary school, you can casually talk about “when you go to college” the same way you would talk about “when you grow up.” As your child gets older, chat with them about what they want to study, and encourage them to take classes that will help them better prepare for higher education.

The Details

You can be a big help to your kid once they are in high school and considering what college to attend. Help them think about some elements they may not have considered. These include how big the school is, whether it is in an urban or more rural location and how good its programs are in the area that interests your child. Your child might not also think to consider if they will or will not need a car, if they do, you can help them find an affordable option for college students. Look over schools online and take them on campus visits if it is feasible. You can help them determine what their expenses will be like, including room and board, and in making a budget as well. They could probably also use your help in filling out financial aid forms and scholarship and grant applications.

Your Child’s Lead

You want your kid to go to college, maybe because you loved those years in your own life or maybe because you didn’t have the opportunity yourself. You can follow all of the suggestions above, but it might be that your child simply has other plans. Maybe they want to pursue a trade that involves an apprenticeship instead of going to college. Maybe they want to work or travel or work and travel for a couple of years. While this can be difficult, you have to make an effort to separate your dream for your kid from their own dream about their life. Keep in mind as well that many people who delay college and attend later in their 20s often find that they can bring a maturity and focus to their classes that they otherwise would not have had.

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