If you’re a parent, an aunt or uncle, or a family friend of a young person, you may be wondering how you can help them succeed as a college student. There’s a lot to juggle when it comes to considering whether to attend college and which one to go to, including academics, future career plans, application, funding and more, and there’s a lot you can do to help.
Help with Applications
These can be overwhelming. It’s not just the applications for schools but those for financial aid and scholarships as well. You can help by sitting down with them and reviewing requirements and deadlines. As for college applications, it’s usually a good idea to apply to at least two schools, a dream one and a safe one, although some students may want to apply to a few others as well.
Beyond that, there’s also the FAFSA and various scholarships. Just researching scholarships and figuring out the eligibility requirements can be a big job in and of itself. If letters of recommendation are required, you can talk about who would be appropriate to ask and how far in advance they should be asked. You may also want to help them put together a spreadsheet or other document that lists requirements and deadlines so that they can see at a glance what they need to do.
Cosign on Student Loans
It’s common for savings, scholarships, and federal financial aid to be insufficient to cover all the costs associated with higher education. Students applying for private loans may be discouraged to find that they are turned down or only offered loans with very high interest rates because they need a credit history or regular income. One of the biggest ways that you can help them out is by cosigning on one of these loans. However, this comes with huge responsibilities. You can review a guide about these responsibilities as well as private student loan cosigner rights if you’ve already cosigned on a loan or are considering doing so.
Find Them a Tutor
Academics at the college level can be tough. This can be the case for students who didn’t receive a great education because they may not have the foundation they need to succeed, but it can also be the case for people who excelled in high school. If high school was easy, they might not have learned the time management and study skills they need for a more challenging curriculum.
In either of these cases, one way you can help is by helping them get tutoring help. There are several different avenues for finding one. Many schools offer free services on campus. There are also opportunities for paid tutors, both online and offline. Talk to the student and find out what arrangement might work best for them.
Act as a Mentor
Another great way to help a young adult is to become a mentor. This can be particularly helpful if you work in a field that interests them, but that’s not a requirement. Simply being an adult who can meet with them on a somewhat regular basis to discuss their future and offer opinions can make a big difference. As a mentor, it’s important that you try to share your wisdom without pushing your mentee in a particular direction. If they are trying to decide what to do in a certain situation, you can share what you did without pushing them to take the same approach.
Talk About the Future
You don’t have to be a formal mentor to talk about the future to a college-bound student or one already in college. It can be valuable for them to simply have an adult around to discuss everything from what school to attend to their career hopes. If they’re still undecided about where they want to go, you could talk to them about other criteria to consider, such as the size of classes or where the school is located. If they’re unsure about their career or getting pressure from other adults to pursue a career they’re not fully committed to, you could talk to them about their options. Encourage them to brainstorm and help them broaden the scope of possibility for their life.
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