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A Cheat Sheet For Parents Of Soon-To-Be High-School Grads

04/11/2017 05:02 EDT | Updated 04/11/2017 05:02 EDT

These are particularly heady times if you have a child embarking on graduation in the next few weeks or months -- be that from high school or from university.

Heady, for the child definitely, and undoubtedly their parents as well.

high school graduate

(Photo: Prasit Photo via Getty Images)

Questions abound.

Should I stay or should I go (in-town or away to college or university)?

What am I passionate about?

Where do my talents and passions align -- can I get a degree in that and ultimately a job that pays me for it?

Will my marks be high enough?

Which school should I choose?

Why have I not heard back from that program?

Can anybody hear me?

For the parent...

Is my child going to make it?

What are the jobs of the future?

Are they making the right choice?]

Can we afford this?

Etc.

Indeed, a sea of questions, many of which peer into the unknown.

Prepare yourself for the mountain of information that you will encounter.

Having been through this process once, I can safely say it does NOT get any easier. Each child is different. End of story.

Here's what I've observed and learned over the course of having one child and now the second apply for postsecondary education:

1. Start delving into the research process in Grade 10 and continue in Grade 11, with greater urgency. You will not regret it.

2. Narrow down your program/institution options to around three of four. Anything more than that is unwieldy, unnecessary and intimidating.

3. Prepare yourself for the mountain of information that you will encounter. University and college websites are an absolute maze of information, so you'll need to be shrewd in how you evaluate one program from another, based on the criteria you deem most important.

4. Let your child lead that research conducted in Step 1. You can and likely should be a bystander, there to support him/her with food for thought or to act as devil's advocate, if called upon. You should not be the one leading the research. Stop yourself.

5. Don't discount schools that are not among the more mainstream ones -- you know, the ones with massive marketing budgets that can flood prospective students with information both online, in person and in the mail. Schools with smaller marketing budgets aren't necessarily schools with weaker programs -- far from that, in fact.

6. Make an appointment with your child to see their high-school guidance counsellor in Grade 11 and again in Grade 12. If your guidance counsellor is weak, find one outside the school that comes recommended and meet them. Their insight and objective opinion will prove invaluable.

picking college

(Photo: Deandrobot via Getty Images)

7. Ensure your child is participating in extra-curricular activities in high school, well prior to Grade 11. The marks count, certainly, but so to do all activities, sports teams, clubs, etc. that your child may be participating in. As does volunteering and participating in service initiatives.

8. Going to school in the U.S., may actually not be as expensive as you think. Many schools have a part of their budget dedicated to support Canadian students, which often goes unclaimed and unused.

9. Create a university/college file. It will fill up in seconds, like you won't believe.

10. Immediately refrain from helicopter parenting, if that has been your parenting approach. Purposely sending your kid away to school will not necessarily force him or her to grow up and mature. If anything, it may just create an anxiety, that both you and your child have never experienced.

11. If you're child is confused by the options, get them to write down the pros and cons of each school and program on a piece of paper and evaluate it. Visuals have the ability to clarify.

12. Keep the lines of communication open on this subject matter. Your child will likely go quiet at some point in their final high-school year as they cope with workload, decision-making and contemplating jobs of the future. Be supportive, without stalking them. It's a fine balance.

If it were only as simple as when those of us, of a certain age, were graduating from high school. Three options mailed in on one piece of paper. A maximum of three letters mailed back. Yes or no. Decision complete.

Believe if or not, selecting the perfect prom dress and tuxedo colour will be easier, after all.

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