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How You Can Help Your Rising 12th Grader Over the Summer

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For many families, 12th grade is the pinnacle of over a decade of schooling and 18 years of parenting. Before you know it, college application deadlines, standardized tests, and personal statements will all be upon you. Then, finally, your teen will be graduating and the high school years will be behind him or her.


As you look towards 12th grade, you might be wondering what your role is as the parent. Your teen is becoming more and more independent. This independence and maturity are integral skills to nurture as he or she moves towards college, yet your teen isn’t an adult yet and still needs your help and support. In this post, we discuss four key ways in which you can support your rising 12th grader over the summer before senior year.



1. Create a Schedule Together

Some summer days might seem luxuriously slow, but don’t let that fool you. When the school year begins, the deadlines and commitments will flow nonstop. Between academic achievements that need to be maintained, extracurricular commitments that need to be honored, application and scholarship deadlines that cannot be missed, and the logistics of gathering application materials, there is going to be a lot to juggle.


While it can seem overwhelming just to think about, anticipating these commitments is key to managing them with ease. In fact, there are many deadlines that are already written in stone, so now is the perfect time to write them down.


Schedule a time with your teen to sit down and create a schedule together. Ask him or her to bring a list of important deadlines, but also plan to support him or her by bringing a timeline. You can find a comprehensive timeline for 12th grade in our post What Is the Ideal Timeline for the College Application Process.


Together, create a calendar of important dates and deadlines. Some of these will be external deadlines, like college application deadlines, but others should be self-imposed, such as a due date for the first draft of a personal statement.


You should also agree on a check-in schedule together. Your teen probably doesn’t want you harping on him or her about every single assignment and commitment, so creating a weekly time to check in about upcoming deadlines is a great solution.


Once your calendar is complete, agree on a place to post it. You might put it onto a virtual, shared calendar through an app, or you might use a physical calendar posted someplace prominent in your home.



2. Organize Your Own Finances

Another way that you can help your teen before his or her senior year of high school is by getting your own financial affairs in order. If you’re like most families, cost is a significant concern when it comes to college. As such, your finances are going to be under the microscope when your teen fills out paperwork for financial aid or need-based scholarships.


This is a great chance to support your teen in a completely hands-off way. Your teen doesn’t need to be involved in this at all. Instead, you can do this independently and ensure that all of the information and documentation is ready and organized for your teen when he or she needs it.


To get started, review information about college costs. Some great places to start are Understanding College Costs: FAQs About Financial Aid In Practice and 15 College Financial Aid Resources. You should also have a look through the FAFSA to figure out what information your teen will need if he or she needs to fill this out. For one, you’ll need a copy of your tax return.


Another way that you can help is by creating a budget and sticking to it. In addition to college costs, your teen will soon have increased transportation costs, not to mention room and board and materials fees. If you can start saving for these additional expenses now, your teen will be grateful when bills start rolling in next year.


Finally, have a frank conversation with your teen about finances. He or she is old enough and deserves to know about your financial resources. In addition, he or she should know in advance if he or she is going to need to contribute to expenses or to hold a job while attending classes. The summer before 12th grade is a good time for this conversation because it leaves an entire year for your teen to prepare financially.


3. Instill Financial Responsibility

Another way to ease the financial burden and transition that will take place next year is to lay the foundation now for future financial responsibility. There are several ways that you can get started with this.


For one, sit down with your teen and have a frank conversation about your vision for financial support next year. Who will be responsible for paying for books, meals out, and recreation? How much do you expect your teen to contribute towards living expenses or tuition? It’s important to be up front about these expenses now so that your teen won’t be surprised by them next year.


In addition, encourage your teen to develop a budget that includes a savings account. Point out long term expenses that might motivate him or her, like car insurance or summer rent in the city. If your teen doesn’t have a  job, this is a good time to bring up the possibility of getting one. After all, in order to develop good financial savvy, your teen needs to have some finances to manage in the first place.


For more guidance about money management for teens, see our posts What Are The Best Financial Tips For A High School Student? and How Do I Get Started Saving Money For College?.



4. Encourage Social Media Awareness

Finally, if you haven’t already had a serious talk about social media now is the time. Your teen should know that admissions committees can and some have in the past reviewed applicants’ social media accounts. In fact, even if the admissions committee does not routinely review such things, they likely won’t hesitate to follow up if they are tipped off to inappropriate posts or images.


The bottom line is that your teen should conduct him or herself online as he or she would in any other public space. Nothing online is private; your teen should always expect his or her posts and images, even those he or she posts using privacy filters, to be available to outside viewers.  


One way that you can monitor your teen’s online presence is by Googling his or her name every month or so. Your teen should be aware what images, articles, and posts pop up when someone searches for him or her. If your teen has a common name, try searching for his or her name plus your town name or his or her school.


Another step often overlooked by many teens is to filter who they associate with online. Even if your teen has a squeaky clean image on Facebook or Twitter, if he or she is friends with or follows a bunch of inappropriate accounts or accounts that repeatedly post questionable material, your teen is guilty by association. Fair or unfair, your teen may be judged by the company he or she keeps, both in real life and online.


Social media doesn’t have to be all negative connotations, though. Many teens now use sites like LinkedIn for productive networking purposes. Encourage your teen to get started by directing him or her to these posts:


How To Use LinkedIn In High School

How to Make an Effective LinkedIn Page


Does your teen want access to expert college guidance — for free? When they create their free CollegeVine account, they will find out their real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve their profile, and get their questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Encourage them to sign up for their CollegeVine account today to get a boost on their college journey.


For more information about parenting a college bound teen, check out these posts:


Parents, How Involved Should You be in the Application Process?

Parent Perspective: What You Need to Know About Today’s College Applications

How Can I Help My Child Prepare for College Applications?

What Parents Need to Know About SAT and ACT Studying Prep

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.