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Getting ready for college – advice for parents of rising seniors

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By Steve Michaud

Summer is a great time for exploration
and new beginnings. If you are
a parent of a rising senior in high
school, you may be stressing about
finding the right college and about
the upcoming application process.
you do find yourself anxious about
what lies ahead, keep in mind you
can harness this feeling and set up
a game plan for you and your rising
senior. Summer can be a perfect time
to expand family vacations by visiting
college campuses.
As an independent college counselor,
I suggest students set a Sept. 1
deadline to have the list of colleges
to which they will apply. This list
should be a result of on-campus visits,
interviewing and online exploration.
These are the schools to which
the student will apply during the first
part of his or her senior year.
I also advise parents to encourage
their student to know who he or
she is academically and to continue
identifying areas of academic and
social interest. This will help pave
the way for college readiness. This
can help define the type of college
or university best fitting a student’s
academic needs and learning style.
For parents of seniors, it’s never too
late to focus on what’s important:
Understand that learning is ongoing,
transitional and more powerful than a
focus on the outcome or the score.

But sometimes students misconstrue
their parents’ opinions and
feedback as intrusive rather than
helpful. So, what can you do during
summer to help a rising senior
through the process of self-discovery,
and the transition from high
school to being more independent?

• Listen with an active ear. Listen
between the lines; what your
student is not saying can be as
revealing as what he or she actually
• Validate your student’s uncertainties.
Most don’t know what it
will be like when they leave home
or live in a group setting with many
other students.
• Talk. This is a great time to give
your teen opportunities to share
hopes and dreams. Help him or
her see the value in being realistic
while at the same time entertaining
all possibilities.
• Keep a sense of humor. These are
challenging times for all of you.
Tensions run high, stresses are
many, but there are also rewards.
Work to keep a sense of balance.
• Stay positive. Planning for college
is new territory for many. With a
little planning, perseverance and
guidance, everyone can succeed.
There is a college for every student.

• Remember, this is a journey
for all of you. Letting go is
part of being a parent.

It’s a fine balance. Working
to model calm, supportive and
encouraging behavior for your student
will help you and your family
as you pursue new pathways.

Steve Michaud, owner of Family Pathways
College Counseling, is a practicing
independent college counselor in
Bozeman. Michaud has more than two
decades of experience helping families
across the country navigate all post
secondary options. Contact him at: or (406)

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