Getting a high school student ready to apply to college while serving in the armed forces can present its own unique set of challenges. My father served in the US Marine Corps for 22 years, giving me the opportunity to spend my high school years on a Marine base. I learned to handle his deployments and field assignments, as well as homework and college essays. As a former admissions officer and current college advisor, I know how complicated the college search and application process has become-especially for military families. Here are some tips to help you and your high schooler navigate the process.
* Try to stay in one location while your child is in high school
Frequent moves between bases and posts become second nature for military families. Unfortunately, making these transitions while your child is in high school may be detrimental to his or her academic and social development. A star soccer player, for example, might be relegated to a Junior Varsity team when he transfers to another high school. If possible, plan to spend the last three years of high school at the same school. This will ensure that your child has the time to build relationships with teachers and counselors, as well as make an impact in and out of the classroom. Planning in advance may help allow families to spend four years in one location.
* When enrolling in a new high school, meet with your student's guidance counselor
If your child has to transfer to a new high school, have him or her meet with the guidance counselor immediately. Make sure the counselor knows your child's background, his college aspirations, and how his new school can help him lead in the right direction. Getting to know the counselor right away will also allow your child a smooth transition to his new school. Unfortunately though, guidance counselors may be busy with hundreds of other students. As a result, you may also need to find alternative College Admissions sources of information and support like ApplyWise.com.
* If one parent is deployed, keep in touch via weekly emails
My father spent the entirety of my junior year in South Korea. Unfortunately, we did not have email back then and I kept in touch with letters and phone calls. Now, with the advent of e-mail and new technologies , parents and children can communicate, regardless of where they are. During your child's junior year, talk about his or her college aspirations, help research schools to develop an initial college list and offer tips. Parents should not let distance get in the way of assisting their children through this important step in their lives.
* Know early on if your child wants to pursue a career in the military
If you have been on active duty continuously for eight years, your child can apply to the service academies under the Presidential category. (Applicants who have step parents who are career military personnel must be adopted to qualify.) Many children of military personnel follow in their parent's footsteps and consider a career in the Armed Services. Talk about these opportunities in your child's freshmen or sophomore year, since the application process for the service academies begins junior year. Also, find out about opportunities through high school ROTC programs that may lead to college admissions and scholarships.
* Discuss paying for college face to face
It is difficult to speak about finances over email or phone. If possible, you should plan to have a conversation about financing your child's education face to face by his or her sophomore year. Families can plan a budget for applying to college (try Apply Wise's college budget calculator) and research colleges and scholarships (your local MWR office can help you with local resources geared toward military dependents) to make your child's college dreams a reality.
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© Applywise LLC 2008
If you haven't enrolled in classes, the best way to start is to find Military-Friendly schools that will work around your schedule. Search for schools that offer: online degree programs, flexible schedules, military tuition discounts and scholarships. Request information from Military-Friendly Schools today.
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