One thing we know for sure is that it’s never too early to start thinking about college. Some parents begin to save for their child’s education before they’re born, others dream about the college their kid will attend before they can walk, and many of us don’t know exactly where to begin. Luckily, our friends at TODAY gained insightful information from Robert Franek, editor-in-chief of the Princeton Review. He provided his tips for students and parents to prepare for college.
1. It's not too soon to start thinking and talking about college.
"It's never too early to start thinking about college," Franek told TODAY Parents editor Rebecca Dube. Instead of creating more pressure, Franek said that introducing the conversation early helps defuse some of the "frenzy and the angst" surrounding the admissions process and creates a "community" feeling within a family about the college admissions process. Franek said to plan to get serious about college admissions around the end of sophomore year/beginning of junior year in high school.
2. Even if you think you can't afford a certain college, don't cross it off the list.
Franek pointed out that many of the most "heart-stoppingly expensive" universities also have some of the best financial aid. "Don't make the tragic mistake of crossing those schools off your list for consideration," Franek said, especially early on in the process. When all the discounts and aid come in, they might be affordable after all.
3. Students, you have a job: Be awesome.
There are two kids of financial aid for college: need-based and merit-based. Franek pointed out that both students and their parents have responsibilities when it comes to acquiring the $180 billion financial aid dollars available. For students, that means "being awesome in high school," Franek said — taking challenging classes and making good grades, then taking the SAT and/or ACT and scoring as well as they can on them.