What Are Your Tips for College Planning?

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Kaplan Test Prep. I received compensation to write this post, and any opinions expressed are my own, and reflect my actual experience.

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This fall, my oldest daughter will begin her third year of college. With two more daughters in high school (one will be a junior this year, one a senior), I’ve hardly had any time to rest when it comes to college planning!

stacey and girls

Here are a few things I’ve learned through experience, plus some new tips I’ve picked up thanks to Kaplan’s incredible month-by-month college planning guide, KapMap.

Start Early

Though we had always talked about college in broad terms, we didn’t really start planning with my oldest daughter until her junior year. We still had plenty of time for testing, school visits, paperwork, and applications, but I see now how a careful, studied approach – beginning in freshman year – could have really helped to keep us more focused and less stressed. The KapMap gives great ideas for how to approach extracurriculars, document achievements, establish good study habits, and even begin researching colleges as early as your child’s freshman and sophomore year.

Establish a Team of Support

One mistake we made in college planning with our oldest daughter was thinking we could do it all on our own. My husband and I both went to college, so maybe we felt we had some experience with the process. But oh, how times have changed! High schools require so much more to even graduate, and colleges are incredibly specific with desired test scores, credit they will accept from AP classes, as well as the many deadlines for applying, financial aid, and more. We would have done much less blind stumbling if we had just partnered more with our daughter’s teachers and high school counselors, and used resources like Kaplan that are available for better test prep.

Let Your Child Be Responsible

Letting go might have been the hardest part of college planning with my daughter! As much as I wanted to shadow every move she made along the way, there is much about college planning that is truly up to your child. The studying, the testing, the staying on top of assignments and expectations at school. I also quickly learned that once your child applies to college, the college will be communicating with them, not you! I still remember how disorienting it felt to have my daughter receiving calls, emails, and mail from the college without me being included in the loop. I can see how having an outline like KapMap (which we didn’t know about with our oldest) will help in giving my others daughters sound advice and guidance, while still allowing them to be independent.

*A Special Offer from Kaplan*

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning for college, and I know many of us could use all the help we can get! Right now, save $100 when you enroll in Kaplan’s SAT and ACT course through 8/28. Use promocode: SHESPEAKS100.

For more information about Kaplan:

What Are Your Tips for College Planning?

Do you have a child in college, or one in high school who is preparing for college? What are the things you have learned along the way?