“Understanding the Three Major Differences Between High School and College… will Your Child Make the Leap?”

Preparing kids for college in this day and age can be a challenge – even more so than in times past.  There seem to be a lot more distractions from academic pursuits these days than there used to be, and as we have pointed out numerous times in our newsletters, more and more students are requiring extra time (and substantially increased expenses) to graduate.  In fact, you are probably already aware that a significant number of the students who start college will never end up graduating at all.


With these sobering thoughts in mind, it is never a bad idea to take a closer look at the differences between high school and college or university studies.  Higher education is NOT simply a continuation of the high school experience, and students who make that assumption are often in for a very rude – and potentially expensive – awakening.  Unfortunately, this refers not only to students who may not have taken their high school studies as seriously as they should have… every year there are college freshmen who were excellent performers in high school, but who struggle mightily to make the jump to solid performance in their academic pursuits at the college or university level.


Preparation for higher education is a broad-based pursuit that requires the effort of the student, the parents, and other people who have an interest in helping the college based young person to overcome the challenges that are inherent to making the jump from high school to college or university.

Because of this reality, we have chosen this month’s newsletter to delve into some of the main considerations for students and their parents when it comes to intelligently managing extracurricular activities – especially with an eye toward acceptance to desired colleges and universities around the country.  We urge you to read and think about these suggestions as a guide to assist your own college bound student in creating a college application that will properly impress the decision makers at the next level of his or her educational career. These are guidelines that ideally should be implemented in the years well prior to the application to college, and they are of specifically urgent importance for those students who will be graduating from high school in the next year (or two).  As with most things, it is important to “choose wisely!”  While students will all have different sets of talents and interests, we are pleased to provide you with some suggestions for doing just that.


I.  College Success Requires A Self-Starter

The vast majority of college students will end up away from the comforts of home when they start attending their college or university, and they will need to be able to manage their own lives appropriately in order to make it a successful experience.  This might seem a little bit obvious, but rest assured that it is a common problem in educational institutions these days.  Simply put, those students who are unable to get themselves out of bed in the morning, or who cannot pull themselves away from a video game to attend class, or who are not motivated to study for their midterm examinations and write required papers, are going to run into serious academic issues when starting college studies.


For this reason, it is important for students to implement these types on responsibilities in their own lives at earlier stages.  If they are not already being managed well in high school, then now is the time.  Students will find that policies of repeated procrastination, while perhaps manageable in high school, can really come back to bite them once they start trying to manage college work.


It is a simple fact that college offers significantly more freedom than high school.  The students who are able to manage that freedom responsibly and successfully will be most likely to find themselves in a very good situation with their college studies, as well as in the work force thereafter.  This is another case of “the earlier the better” (as with almost everything we discuss in these college preparation newsletters!), so please do not hesitate to start your college bound child off now in managing these important life skills, no matter what stage of preparation you are currently at.



II.  Big Fish / Little Pond Syndrome


Making the leap from high school to the next level can be a shock to the system at many levels… and not only academically.  Student-athletes who did great things at the high school level can find themselves struggling against college competition (which is one of the main reasons that athletic scholarships can be so hard to come by).  Students who were engaged in the performing arts will often discover that there are suddenly a lot of people with similar talent levels to their own.  This can be a difficult realization for students who are not prepared to enter the “bigger pond” of their college or university.


Because of this fact, we have noticed that the more experience students are able to get with other college-bound young people from other areas, the better prepared they will often be to adjust to swimming in deeper academic waters.


We urge you as parents to take a look at what is available in your area to see what makes the most sense for your child’s situation.  There are often summer programs at colleges, special interest camps and programs, as well as national organizations that can provide this type of exposure for students.  Students should be proud of their abilities, and they should also have a good and supported foundation of understanding for precisely where they stand as they move into the college years.



III.  Academic Preparation Matters


It is an unfortunate reality that all schools and all school districts (not to mention all of the American states) are not created equal in the arena of academic accomplishment.  For this reason, it is absolutely vital for students and their parents to have a good understanding of the level of preparation provided through the local high school system.  This is not necessarily a difference between public and private schools, either, as there are good and bad examples of both kinds of schools.


While it is great for students to excel at the high school level, and to achieve a great report card, it is important for parents to realize that some regions will produce honor-roll high school graduates who, if no academic intervention takes place, may well be unprepared for academics at the college level.  There are few things more distressing than seeing a former high school achiever who is truly struggling academically as a college freshman – and this sad scenario happens quite a bit.


For this reason it is extremely important for parents and students to have a frank assessment of the academic preparation offered through their high school system, especially with regard to the colleges and universities that are of the most interest to the student.  Granted, many students may find that they are most likely going to be well-prepared for the next level of studies, while others will probably need some augmentation in order to perform their best on the SAT or ACT, and in their freshman year of college.  There are many public and private options available to assist students in this regard, no matter where they attend high school, or what their personal academic needs may be.


Your college funding advisor can provide excellent and invaluable feedback on this important topic, in addition to helping you make plans for the financial aspect of college studies.  We are well-connected in both the academic and financial preparations for your student’s higher education and future career… and we will be more than happy to help you gain a fuller understanding of what it will take for your child to achieve his or her academic goals after graduation.




Students who take the time to understand their own learning processes, and maximize them while still in high school, will likely find themselves extremely well-prepared for their freshman experience at the college or university level.   This process will usually involve the student, his or her teachers and advisors, and significant parental involvement as well.  Yes, the academic work needs to be put in by the student, but the entire process is usually most effectively managed as a team.

The parents, who generally undertake the additional responsibility of financial preparation for the college years, will also tend to find that this goes significantly smoother when it is a team effort, as long as the team includes the input of a college funding professional.  This is, of course, precisely why we are here to begin with!  We have the background and the experience to make the process much easier overall.

We are able to positively affect the fiscal preparation for college for families through a number of professional avenues, and it is our distinct pleasure to do so.  One of the methods that we frequently utilize to share important information with parents is with live College Funding Workshops, which are presented directly to parents by some of the best college funding professionals.  For a face-to-face introduction to the financial elements important to parents who are preparing for the next level of education for their own high school student(s), these workshops are hard to beat.


We make it a point to schedule these workshops at times (and locations) that will make them feasible for the schedules of parents, including both evening and weekend workshops available for interested parties.  However, please be aware that while there is no admission fee for these valuable workshops, we simply must require reservations in advance for planning and space requirements.  If you would like some more information about these presentations or would like to discuss making a reservation, you can make one toll-free call to our workshop staff members.  One of them will be pleased to help you further.  You can contact them directly with a call to our offices at 818.839.6600.


For those individuals who are more interested in learning about the basic elements of the financial readiness for higher education on their own time, we have taken the time to create and publish an excellent written report.  This free resource has been developed specifically to meet the educational needs of these parents, and introduces the foundations of the current college funding process.  It is truly a must-read for the parents of college-bound students, no matter how old their children are.

Our report is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” and we believe that you will find it to be a truly vital companion while learning about and laying the financial groundwork for your child’s college or university years.  For your very own free copy of the “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College“ report, please click the link above, or call us at 818.839.6600.  We will be more than pleased to send your own copy of this report to you through the postal service right away.


Until next month!


Michael Budnick


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