parenting tips high school

Parenting Tips: Making Sure your High School Scholar is College Ready

Posted on Posted in hello-dear

Parenting Tips: Making Sure your High School Scholar is College Ready

The teenager in our house has made me pick up the phone, several times, call my mama and say,
“I am so sorry for the way I acted when I was this age.”
There once was a time when my oldest daughter thought of me as smart, helpful and perhaps even cool.  Not anymore. Now, to her most days I am out of touch.  I don’t wear ‘mom jeans’, but my Blackberry in particular is evidence to her that my ideas are stuck in the Afro Sheen era.  Perhaps my oldest is right. For the most part, I could care less. Until that is I hear teeth smacking, feet stomping or detect an eye rolling when I let it be known that my opinion trumps hers.
On these days I think about how many months, days and minutes I have until she leaves for college. After this school year we only have four years left.  Her dad and I have never parented a child to college.  We will be knocked out of our middle school rhythm, and forced to embark into unchartered high school parenting territory.  As high school approaches her biggest concern is dating, getting a cell phone and behind the wheel of a car.  Not nearly important as our biggest concern  to make sure she is well prepared academically.  She, like the other two, is college bound.  We know that academic confidence in college is of the utmost importance, as not having it may negatively impact her persistence, major choice and ultimately her eventual career.
In 2010 the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reported that nearly 60% of first-year college students, while eligible for college admission, were not ready academically for college.  Resultantly, colleges and universities are finding that more and more students are in need of *remedial courses before they can even think about taking an actual college level course. In 2007 30.2% Blacks, 29% Hispanic, 22.5% Asian and 19.9% White first-year undergraduate students attending a public institution reportedly had to take remedial courses. This of course causes more time and money to be spent on college attendance and can impact college academic confidence and we don’t want nor can we have any of that.


We recognize that not all high schools are made the same.  Thankfully we have the ability to take advantage of school choice.  Thus we plan to keep the following 3 things in mind as our oldest heads to high school next year:

  1. 1.       Investigate the accreditation, curriculum, high school graduation and college attendance rates of local charter schools and magnet programs.  Charter and magnet schools are a part of the new school reform craze.  Typically, these types of schools may have a specialized curriculum, i.e. a focus on math and science, performing arts or new approaches to learning.  As a whole charter schools have not proven to produce outstanding academic results.  We intend to thoroughly research and ask other parents about the high school charters and magnets in our area.


  1. 2.       Enroll in a rigorous course load all four years.  Our plan for our oldest as she nears high school registration is to skip/bypass/run away from college preparatory classes.  If at all possible the goal is to make sure her high school transcript has honors and AP classes - only. Why, because a rigorous course load not only prepares her for college course work but may also demonstrate to colleges she is academically ready.

A word about AP classes…:

AP has proven to assist in preparing students for college course work.  Also, AP programs vary from school to school depending on the quality of the teacher and the schools overall AP program.

The days of colleges/universities giving automatic credit for making a score of a 3,4 or 5 on the AP test may be coming to an end. In 2002, Harvard stopped awarding credit except for scores of 5 and in 2013 Dartmouth announced that it would no longer award credit for AP courses .



  1. 3.       Investigate the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in our area. IB classes, much like AP, are designed to provide a more rigorous curriculum.  There are some differences between IB and AP and different opinions on whether or not IB may be more rigorous than a AP course load.  Just as with charter and magnet schools we intend to do our research.


Fortunately, for my oldest my beliefs about the importance of a stellar academic portfolio trump any scrounge of her face given to me at my antiquated beliefs that dating, a cell phone and license will have to wait.  My ideas may be a relic of the Afro Sheen era, and perhaps ten years from now I will say she should have gotten a phone in high school.  Even still, when it comes to schooling I know one thing is for sure: Mother Knows Best!

What’s your academic plan for the high schooler in your house?

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