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  • Writer's pictureDonna Norsworthy

How to Start Planning for College for Rising 11th Graders

High school is a time of growth and discovery, where teenagers begin to explore their interests and passions, while facing new challenges and responsibilities. For rising 11th graders, college might seem like a distant dream. But the truth is that it’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s future, and how to prepare them for success in college and beyond. In this blog post, I will share tips and strategies for parents who want to help their rising 11th graders to start planning for college and make the most of their high school years.

Encourage your child to explore their interests and talents

One of the most important things parents can do to help their child prepare for college is to support their interests and passions. Encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities, join clubs, volunteer, and pursue internships that align with their interests. This will not only help them develop valuable skills and experiences but also demonstrate their commitment and enthusiasm on their college applications.

Start researching colleges and universities

As your child enters their junior year, it’s essential to start researching colleges and universities that match their interests, goals, and academic achievements. Encourage your child to create a list of dream schools, but also consider other options based on their preferences and budget. Help your child to explore the colleges’ websites, attend college fairs, and connect with admissions officers to learn more about their programs, requirements, and application processes.

Help your child to stay organized and motivated

Between homework, exams, extracurricular activities, and social life, high school can be overwhelming for many students. That’s why it’s crucial to help your child develop good study habits, time management skills, and stress reduction techniques. Encourage your child to use a planner to keep track of their assignments, deadlines, and activities, and to set realistic goals and priorities for each day. Help your child to find a balance between their academic and personal life, and to seek support from teachers, counselors, or tutors if needed.

Prepare for standardized tests

Standardized tests like the PSAT, SAT, or ACT are important components of the college admission process. Many high school juniors take the PSAT in the fall, and the SAT or ACT in the spring or summer of their junior year. As a parent, you can help your child to prepare for these tests by providing study resources, scheduling practice exams, and encouraging them to attend test-prep classes or tutoring. You can also help your child to explore alternative options, such as test-optional colleges or SAT subject tests.

Start thinking about financial aid and scholarships

College education can be expensive, and many families struggle to afford the cost of tuition, room, and board. That’s why it’s important to start thinking about financial aid and scholarships early on. Encourage your child to explore their options for federal and state aid, work-study programs, and merit-based scholarships. Help your child to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible, and to follow up with their chosen colleges’ financial aid offices for further assistance.


Planning for college can be a daunting task, but with the right mindset, resources, and support, rising 11th graders can start preparing for their future success in high school. As parents, your role is to encourage your child to explore their interests, research colleges, stay organized and motivated, prepare for standardized tests, and think about financial aid and scholarships. By being proactive and collaborative, you can help your child to make the most of their high school years and set the foundation for a fulfilling and rewarding college experience.


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